Kyle Kuzma has received a lot of criticism in the past two seasons for his performances with the Los Angeles Lakers. The forward addressed them and made it clear he'd be back stronger.
This season, the 2020 NBA champion had to help the Lakers survive without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Even though the team struggled to get the results, Kuzma showed some improvement.
After the Lakers took the Houston Rockets down on Wednesday, the player talked with reporters, disclosing how his game has improved since he was in college to this point. He had a lot to say, even claiming he has become an all-around player.
“I just love the game of basketball, plain and simple,” Kuzma said after the win against the Houston Rockets. “My freshman year in college I didn’t play at all, really. Played 5-7 minutes a game on a Sweet 16 team, could’ve transferred but for I just stuck with it and just continued to build and build and build.
“Eventually got to the NBA. Had a lot of adversity since being here, role changes, big dogs coming here and my role diminish more and more. But I’m a strong person. I’m from Flint, Michigan, I’ve been through a lot. Nothing really is too big for me.
Kuz also credited playing alongside two incredible players like LeBron and AD, which made things easier for him to take his game to the next dimension.
“I love the grind I think there’s this misconception about who I am as a person. People don’t think I love basketball and how I dress and how I dye my hair and everything else. But if you really watch basketball and you understand where I was my rookie and how I am now, I turned myself into a complete all-around player.
“That’s from the grind, that’s from studying and that’s from wanting to be as great as I can be. I won’t change my journey for anything. I think it’s been very valuable to me. I think it’s been very valuable to take a seat and watch Bron and AD play. I think that has helped me tremendously in my growth. I’m looking to continue to keep getting better and better. That’s all it’s about.”
The Lakers had a big night, revealing their 2020 championship banner and Kuz really enjoyed that moment, recalling how hard it was for the team to win it and how happy he is to have contributed to that.
“It meant a lot,” Kuzma said postgame. “I’ve been here the longest, I’ve been here through some ugly times. Some real ugly times. Whether it was the rookie year and the whole debacles we had, second year, same crazy stuff. I’ve kind of seen it all.
“So for me to be here from the jump and be a part of kind of essentially turning around an organization from the jump, from the draft, that’s where it all started for this whole strategic gameplan.“It just means a lot. Being just a kid from Flint, Michigan, I never really thought about raising banners in Staples Center. So it’s real surreal to me.
“I’m just really grateful that I’m able to play the game that I love and contribute at a high level to winning. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, the banner I’ve been a part of, it’s up there forever. It’s never gonna go down and I’ll always remember this moment.”
The Lakers now enter the season's final stretch, hoping to have LeBron James back before the playoffs. It's unclear when he will return to the court but Kyle isn't too worried about that.
The purple and gold have a lot of work to do if they want to defend their championship. Unfortunately, the situation doesn't look good for them and even with James and Davis back, many people believe they aren't as favorites as they were last season.