Bryant was asked if he considered revisiting his old group chat with Lakers players after the series ended in an attempt to troll his previous teammates. He provided an amusing answer.
“I wanted to step foot in the locker room, man,” Bryant said while laughing (starting around the 15:10 mark). “Forget the text — I wanted to go in the locker room. Still all love for my boys, though, all love.”
Bryant was traded by the Lakers to the Nuggets as part of a four-team deal around the deadline and was able to get some measure of revenge when Denver ended L.A.’s season in the Western Conference Finals. The 25-year-old did not play in the series and made only one brief playoff appearance for Denver on its way to its first NBA championship.
Bryant played 41 regular season games for the Lakers during the 2022-23 campaign, averaging 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while playing about 21 minutes per contest. He did not fare as well in 18 appearances with the Nuggets, averaging 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while averaging about 11 minutes per outing.
The Indiana University product actually broke into the NBA with the Lakers in the 2017-18 season, after he was the No. 42 pick of the 2017 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz.
He likely will have another good chance to reach the NBA Finals in the future after reportedly agreeing to a two-year, $5.4 million contract with the Miami Heat this offseason. The Heat are looking to bolster their frontcourt behind Bam Adebayo and fortify their roster after losing some key players, including guard Gabe Vincent to the Lakers.
The Lakers also have put themselves in a position to contend for a championship again by reportedly retaining Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell and adding Vincent, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish and Jaxson Hayes this offseason.
Los Angeles reportedly is still seeking a big man for its 14th roster spot, with familiar faces Mo Bamba and Tristan Thompson being considered. It is a role Bryant may have been able to fill if the sides had been interested in a reunion.
Depending on how this season plays out, Bryant may get another chance to playfully jab at his former Lakers teammates, but on a bigger stage in the NBA Finals.