Will Smith just gave the Lakers a lesson on ‘togetherness’ and ‘gratitude’ in the process. pic.twitter.com/RXb9I7Y6kG
The story of the Lakers’ trade of Lonzo Ball from Lonzo Ball to the Lakers had a lot in common with the story of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers’ trade of Kevin Garnett to Boston.
The “gratitude” part comes into play with Bryant’s decision, according to several sources, who said that he understood where he was in his career. That sense of gratitude was so strong and so deep that despite the team’s new front office, he felt as if he was playing for the first time since the first week of the season.
Kobe Bryant says he’s grateful for the Lakers’ decision to trade Lonzo Ball to the Toronto Raptors. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
“I feel like I’m on a good path. I feel like I can be the best [player] I can be right now and still keep playing, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do,” Bryant said after the Lakers’ 104-105 loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday at Staples Center. “I feel as though with the team, the organization, that I get to be that guy that the team can build their legacy on, that keeps on growing and hopefully I can be a leader on this team for many years.”
In the case of Bryant’s decision, he was not without help. Former Lakers head coach and general manager Mitch Kupchak, now an adviser to the NBA’s players’ union, was present at Bryant’s final meeting with the Lakers.
“The process was not easy, but he got the message that Lonzo is a great young man and he’s got to be in a better situation,” Kupchak said in an interview on Sirius XM earlier this week. “From my standpoint, this is probably the hardest decision of my entire tenure.”
Kupchak and other former Lakers staff members