D’Angelo Russell on playing with Kobe Bryant: ‘The language he spoke was foreign to me’

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

D’Angelo Russell is reflecting on his time as a Los Angeles Lakers teammate of Kobe Bryant, saying he didn’t really understand the knowledge the veteran superstar was trying to impart on him during their one season together.

“I got Kobe on the way out,” Russell told HoopsHype. “The language he spoke was foreign to me at that time. I couldn’t relate to a lot of stuff that he was saying, but he would always talk to me about it as if I knew. The older I got, the stuff would click, and I’d say, ‘Dang, I remember him saying that.'”

Russell looks like he learned at least some of the lessons Bryant was sharing as he eventually became an NBA All-Star and is currently one of the Lakers’ key players.

The two were teammates in Los Angeles during Russell’s first season in the NBA, the 2015-16 campaign which he began when he was 19 years old. It was not the best, at all, from a team standpoint as the Lakers posted a dismal record of 17-65.

It was a disappointing end for the last of Bryant’s 20 NBA seasons, all played with the Lakers. During that time, he fashioned a Hall of Fame career that resulted in five NBA championships and a statue outside of Crypto.com Arena that was unveiled during this season.

The late Bryant’s influence can still be felt throughout the franchise, and Russell is doing what he can to help raise another championship banner. He has scored at least 20 points in his past two games and in four of the past five he has played as the Lakers make a late-season push toward another postseason appearance.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Russell recently established a new Lakers record for 3-pointers made in a season and now has 197 this season. He hinted recently that he would like to stay with the Lakers. He could become a free agent this offseason as he holds a player option for the 2024-25 campaign.

The Lakers have won five games in a row, but their 41-32 record has them just in ninth place in the Western Conference entering league play Thursday. They look bound for the play-in round for a second straight season after emerging from there last year to reach the 2023 Western Conference Finals.

Russell, now 28 years old, is in his second stint with the Lakers after time with the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves. He is averaging 18.2 points and 6.4 assists per game in his 67 appearances this season.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.