The legendary Bill Russell has been a major influence on generations of NBA players through the years.
Among those who consider Russell a mentor is Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who discussed his relationship with the Celtics great following Boston’s 107-100 win over the Lakers Sunday night.
Bryant, who will retire at the end of this season, led all scorers with 34 points for his fourth, 30-plus point game this season.
The 6-foot-6 Bryant will be remembered as one of the greatest players certainly of his generation and truth be told, to ever play the game.
And while his influences vary, the role that Russell has played in his life according to Bryant has been “unbelievable.”
“He has been an unbelievable mentor, especially from the standpoint of leadership and understanding groups, team dynamics and some of the experiences that he went through and how he was able to manage some of the teams that he played on, the difficulties he might have faced,” Bryant said. “He’s been an invaluable voice in my ear.”
While the challenges that Bryant has faced as the face of the franchise with the Lakers have in some ways differed from what Russell experienced during his playing days, the lessons Russell learned in handling certain situations has indeed helped Bryant deal with some of the dicey moments in his career.
“He’s won a lot of championships. We all know that,” Bryant said, referring to Russell. “But every championship team he’s been on had a different dynamic, had a different challenge that he had to deal with from teammates not seeing eye-to-eye, guys to believe or fit into their system, their role, dealing with success, pulling a team out of failure, … all those things are things that I have gone to him for.”