D’Angelo Russell’s two stints with the Los Angeles Lakers detail just how different the two eras of the team are. When Russell was a rookie, he shared the floor with legend Kobe Bryant in his final campaign before retirement. Now, he shares the floor with another soon-to-be legend in LeBron James.
James and Bryant shared a close relationship during their time in the league together and strengthened that bond when LeBron became a member of the Lakers. But the two are very different when it comes to their leadership styles on and off the court.
Russell spoke about the similarities and differences between Bryant and James during his brief time with each of them, while recognizing that the circumstances are extremely different, via The Pat Bev Podcast with Rone:
“I’ll just go from an aura perspective, and Kobe was on his way out, but LeBron is more involved with everybody and everything. On the bus he’s social, on the plane he’s social, he’s just more sociable. When I was with Kobe, I sat next to him on the plane in one of the back seats. I sat next to him every time and just watched and studied him and he never talked. He was really to himself, and at the time he was writing the book and the movie and directing and doing all this stuff so he was locked in, but with Kobe I’ve never seen anything like that. When he walked around, you know how everyone’s talking and someone enters a room and everyone goes quiet. He had that about him wherever he went, it was almost weird for him. But he embraced it and that’s really the only difference. On the floor, he was on his way out so he didn’t really have that youthfulness to him where he was bouncey, he was just getting to it. Bron has a different motivation, he’s still writing his [story]. Kobe already decided he was retiring that year. That team also had a lot of guys on one-year deals and there weren’t a lot of young guys so our win now moment wasn’t there. It was a fun little run, but we got Kobe on the way out when he was happy-go-lucky and his spirit was a little different. Everybody always said I was lucky I got Kobe on my way out versus when he was still through the grind because he was nasty and competitive.”
Getting Bryant in his final season certainly changed a lot about how the Lakers legend was going to be as a leader. That team had very low expectations for what they wanted to achieve and it was largely about the growth of their budding young core.
Now, Russell is playing on a Lakers team with championship expectations as James continues to be towards the top of his game as one of the best players in the league.
Still, when Russell looks back, he can say he had the chance to play with two of the most impactful players in the history of the sport.
Jeanie Buss says Bryant statue will be revealed at right time
Although it feels like an inevitability, there has been no formal announcement regarding a statue for Bryant. Lakers governor Jeanie Buss addressed this recently, saying that there are plans in place and that they’ll be revealed when the time is right.
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