The Los Angeles Lakers will never see another Kobe Bryant walk thru their doors or don the Purple & Gold, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t pass along some wisdom.
Jordan Clarkson got to play two years with one of the greatest players to ever play the game. From their time spent talking, playing, working out and practicing, do you really think Kobe didn’t drop a few gems Clarkson’s way?
You can watch the way Clarkson plays and see how he tries to emulate certain situation the way Kobe did. Not saying that he will never get to a point where he can almost sense the outcome of a game, but that hunger to succeed is there. We got to see just glimpses of it, well, because Kobe was still playing but 2016 will be different.
There’s no Kobe there to direct this young team. No Kobe there to shoulder the blame or take credit for the success. It’s crazy to say this but in only his third season he will be looked upon as a leader on this team. Luol Deng may have the years and Timofey Mozgov may have the rings, but Clarkson has the time. He’s been with the Lakers during the end of the Kobe reign, he stood up for the younger players when Scott was coming down on them. If it wasn’t for Clarkson, there’s no telling where D’Angelo Russell would be now.
During the All-Star break, a reporter asked Russell about being in a free-flowing game after he finished playing in the Rising Star Challenge. Russell, ready to explode and take his anger towards Byron Scott out, made a wiggle in his seat, parted his lips and was about to, until you heard Clarkson, with a slight whisper say” Don’t say anything stupid”. That’s leadership. That’s Kobe.
With Scott gone and the young nucleus set and ready to go, the Lakers will look to Clarkson to be the one that gets them out of jams. When there is a defensive stop needed, they will look to him. If a player is in the wrong position, it must be him that gets in their face. For the wise cracks they shot at mean ole Kobe, Clarkson is the first one to understand it now.
There comes a time when the teacher must let you go on your own and see if that knowledge he gave you will be put to good use. There is no more Kobe to run to, to blame or to congratulate, it’s all on Clarkson now.