Golden State Warriors’ guard D’Angelo Russell paid his respects to NBA legend and his former teammate Kobe Bryant with a heartfelt message on Instagram.
The duo may have had only a short stint together, but one Russell will never forget now as a member of the Warriors.
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NBA legend Kobe Bryant passed away on Sunday after a tragic helicopter accident at the young age of 41. As the league mourns the loss of one of the game’s most beloved stars ever, this tragedy has spread throughout the association.
D’Angelo Russell, now a member of the Golden State Warriors, reflects on playing with the five-time champion.
Russell and Bryant only played together for one season, that being the former’s rookie year and the latter’s final year before retirement in 2015-16.
Although they only played together for such a short time, the number two overall draft pick looked up to Bryant as a real role model like many of this younger generation of players do.
After posting a wholehearted array of photos with the two together in their single season as teammates, Russell finished off with a genuine tear-jerking caption.
"“Watched you closer than ever, man, learned more than I could in such a short time, asked you more questions than ever. True Role Model. I find myself hearing every bit of advice you ever gave me.”"
After being drafted by the Lakers in 2015, the guard called Kobe “my Michael Jordan.”
He goes on the record saying, “He was my Michael Jordan. I did not grow up watching Michael Jordan”, and “when I was growing up it was Kobe, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, those dudes, so to get the opportunity to play with him for his last years is a highlight of my life definitely.”
Russell also started alongside Bryant in his farewell game, which he famously scored 60 points to end his illustrious career. The Lakers won the game, and although they finished with a vile 17-65 regular-season record, this one victory seemingly wiped all of that away.
Russell and Bryant did not always see eye to eye, to say the least throughout their tenure together, mostly because of the rookie’s “immaturity” as a basketball player. However, last year Rusell reflected on these incidents, showing massive leaps in his maturity.
Speaking to The Athletic, Russell recently spoke on their short time together in December, mostly about the lessons Bryant taught him.
"“But looking back on it, I’m like, man, he was really teaching me what’s really relevant now, and a lot of kids don’t get it until they’re eight to ten years in and realize what they want to do.”"
It appears Russell has been maturing since being known as the guy who would show up to practice five minutes early and just wanted to “have fun” and “turn up” on road trips. Also, stating, “Looking back on it, he dropped so many jewels on me that I didn’t hear because I was not there mentally.”
Bryant’s wisdom spread league and far beyond basketball and have inspired players and fans alike.
The Golden State Warriors did not hold practice on Sunday in mourning of Bryant, a tragedy that seems will never get easier to digest.