Lakers’ Anthony Davis talks about Kobe’s powerful impact

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Anthony Davis sat down for his media session Friday with his head down and hoodie pulled over it, preparing to answer questions about his groin injury while fidgeting with his cell.

Then the first question was about his friend, Kobe Bryant, who will be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, and Davis’ eyes immediately began to glow as a smile crossed his face.

The two had developed a bond at the 2012 Olympics, the sage Bryant becoming a mentor for a 19-year-old Davis who gladly shadowed his famous teammate.

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Davis was somewhat melancholy when he talked about how Bryant’s impact is still alive after the iconic NBA and Lakers player died along with his daughter, Gianni, and seven others in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020, in Calabasas.

“I think his impact was very powerful before the tragedy. I think he became even more impactful on our youth, on our generation,” Davis said. “I just think that, I mean, you can see it with everyone wearing his shoes. Even before, the way he approached the game, the way he went about his life, his work ethic, I think he was very impactful.

“Just for me, just being someone that was knowing him since I stepped foot in the league, all the way back to the USA team, seeing everything he did on the floor, off the floor kind of inspired me to follow that same path and have that same work ethic. And then just being here in a Laker uniform, it’s even more inspiring for me to try to continue the legacy that he built here. And I think that goes for guys all around the league, just being able to realize the importance of his body of work on our game and for our generation. He’s the guy that everyone looked up to and wanted to be like.”

Davis has a tattoo of the Black Mamba on his right leg, his way of honoring Bryant.

When Davis first joined the Lakers in a trade in 2019, he’d talk to Bryant at games.

Davis said, “I don’t think he did,” when asked if Bryant tried to recruit the 6-foot-10 forward to the Lakers.

“I know he always talked about [how] he loved playing with me and against me in the Olympics [at practice] and seeing how much I’ve grown as a player,” Davis said. “He could only imagine what it would be like now. But [he] never actually came out and said, ‘I would like for you to be on the Lakers with me.’ Which would have been a dream, to be honest.”

He said one of his favorite stories about Bryant was when Davis played for the Pelicans during a game in New Orleans and how Quincy Pondexter was defending Bryant, who had torn the rotator cuff in his right shoulder on a dunk.

But, Davis recalled, Bryant continued to play after the injury.

“And then he came down the next play and hit a turnaround jumper left-handed from the post. That always sticks in my head,” Davis said. “For a guy to dislocate his shoulder and continue to play, come down and say, ‘[Bleep] it, I’m going to shoot left-handed. I can do it. I can get a bucket with either hand,’ was just insane to me. And then the first time I’ve seen it — I mean, I’ve seen guys shoot left-handed like that — but to do it in a game where it counts, and it matters is just unreal. So, that’s one of my favorite Kobe moments for sure.”

Davis smiled telling that story, and then explained how the “Mamba mentality” has influenced his life.

“I carry that mentality all throughout my life now,” he said. “He tried to instill that in me before his passing, and it’s kinda like, ‘OK, I see now. I get it. I get it from being on the floor, off the floor.’ It’s a way of thinking and your approach to everything you do in the world. And I think the entire world has kind of adapted that a lot more since his passing. It’s a great mindset to have, to be honest.”

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