There are a lot of stories about Kobe Bryant that we don’t know yet. The Black Mamba left a lot of good memories that people will never forget. D’Angelo Russell spent a couple of seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his first one was Kobe Bryant’s last in the NBA.
During a recent interview on “The Old Man & the Three” podcast with J.J. Redick, Russell recalled the time Kobe welcomed him to the league, during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers where Damian Lillard was cooking D’Lo.
We were in Portland, we are playing Dame. At the start of the game, I’m guarding him. They are like, ‘You are going to guard Dame. Do you accept the challenge?’ I’m like, ‘Cool. Let’s do it.’ We are out there and I’m in awe. This is Damian Lillard, ‘Wow!’ I’m still in awe for maybe the whole first quarter. This dude pulls up, deep ball, three. Come down, foul on me, and-one. Look up, deep ball three. Another one, another one. It felt like I was on this island by myself, no one was there to help me out.
They called a timeout. Kobe looks at me, ‘What do you want? The [expletive] to have 50?!’ Kobe goes out and guards him. First of all, that was my ‘Welcome to the NBA’ moment just Dame having [expletive], I don’t know what he had. Then seeing Kobe guard him and just beat him up basically. [The referees] weren’t letting him foul out of that game and he just beat him up. He shut it down. I watched the refs let Kobe just beat the [expletive] out of him and I was just like, ‘Man! That’s his reputation and [I realized] the refs really control the game.’
D’Lo learned from one of the greatest players in history and he saw first hand Kobe’s clout in the league. He took care of Damian Lillard and got a free pass. D’Lo would spend another season in the Lakers before he was drafted to the Brooklyn Nets in 2017 amid some controversies.