Shohei Ohtani recently shook up the baseball world by deciding to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers after six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.
It seems like Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant played a big role in Ohtani’s decision to join the Dodgers by way of a video he filmed back in 2017 when the Dodgers were pursuing Ohtani before he entered the MLB.
“Back in 2017, Bryant had filmed the clip as a favor to the team,” wrote ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez and Jeff Passan. “Now, more than three years after his death in a helicopter crash, Bryant’s reputation as the ultimate competitor spans all sports, and his message to Ohtani registered the same posthumously in 2023 as it would have then: There’s no better place in the world to win than Los Angeles, and there’s no better team in baseball to win with than the Dodgers.”
The 29-year-old Japanese star was clearly impacted greatly by the video.
“That was one of the highlights of the whole meeting,” Ohtani told ESPN through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. “I was really surprised to see it. It was a strong and touching message.”
Ohtani was reportedly taken aback when Bryant said his name in the video. Despite never meeting Bryant, Ohtani “marveled at his commitment, to his craft, to his sport, to his team.” Perhaps the three-time All-Star will be able to have that same type of impact on youngsters currently growing up all over the world.
A two-time MVP, Ohtani is arguably baseball’s biggest and best star at the moment. The massive $700 million deal he signed with the Dodgers will have $680 million deferred until later this century.
The Dodgers have made the playoffs 11 consecutive seasons, but only have one World Series title to show for it. The Angels didn’t make the playoffs once with Ohtani on the roster, so the two-way phenom is surely excited about his new beginnings with a team that knows what it takes to get to the postseason.
It’s a shame that Bryant, who passed away in January 2020, won’t get a chance to see Ohtani shine with the Dodgers this coming season and beyond.
Whenever he makes his Dodgers home debut, the former Rookie of the Year will surely be thinking about the Lakers legend.
Perhaps Ohtani will now be a regular at Lakers games at Crypto.com Arena and even be there when a statue of Bryant gets revealed on Feb. 8.