Kobe Bryant had an impact far beyond the Los Angeles Lakers. NBA players everywhere have been influenced by him and what he accomplished on the basketball court. If you’re an NBA player 30 years or younger then you probably grew up watching Bryant and likely idolizing what he brought to the court.
This was the case for many players on the New Orleans Pelicans. Many of those players didn’t just grow up watching Kobe, but also played for the same Lakers organization. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart all played for the Lakers and it was impossible to miss Bryant’s presence as a result. Whether he was in the building working out, or just hanging around practice it was impossible to not see him.
On his game sneakers Sunday, Ball wrote “RIP Kobe” on his left and “RIP Mamba” on the right one (pictured above), while Hart wrote “Legends are Forever” on one shoe. After the game, Ingram was asked if he there was one moment that stood out to him most about Bryant as a player, to which Ingram responded, “I guess what (players) always talk about, the 81-point game (Bryant had vs. Toronto). I saw a lot of his highlights and his determination and everything he does. He was a player who never quits and is going to battle to the end. That’s what (stood out) to me.”
While he never played with him or against him, Zion Williamson was also impacted by Kobe. He spoke about Bryant’s impact on the team and was emotional about how the Laker great impacted his drive to play in the NBA.
“Kobe meant a lot to me growing up. I had both jerseys, eight and 24 growing up. I studied his footwork game, because I respected it. I think it was top two all time. I was on the way to the arena when I got the news. I just send my prayers to his family you just hate to see what happened to him and his daughter. I just hope the world gives the Bryant family the support they need.”
“At first it was a little difficult (to play today) couldn’t focus at first. One of the greatest taken from us too soon. His impact will forever be a part of this game. He’s a legend. He’ll forever be remembered.”
Williamson and the rest of the Pelicans echo the sentiments that many across the NBA have been feeling on what’s been a difficult period for the Association.