Kobe Bryant is no longer playing in the NBA, but he is, apparently, still very much a part of it.
Mostly because current players won’t let him not be.
From Mark Medina of the Orange County Register:
Have Bryant and Ingram scheduled any workouts yet?
“I don’t know, honestly. I’m always around,” Bryant said. “Guys call me all the time, even guys that are still playing in the playoffs. They reach out to me and ask for some advice on certain things or ask me to take a look at some things here and there. I’m always around. So if he wants to come (down) and work out, he has my cell obviously. I’m sure he’ll reach out at some point and come (down) to O.C. and we’ll get a workout in. It’s no problem.”
Whether it’s Ingram or any of the Lakers’ young players, Bryant said he will offer detailed feedback.
“It’s just consistency. That’s all it is, consistency. You don’t build an entire package of the game on one summer. You focus on one or two things throughout the summer,” Bryant said.
Bryant was always going to remaine tied to the Lakers organization. Other current players reaching out to him is more of a surprise—and yet, at the same time, not at all shocking.
Though Bryant never had the reputation of being the nicest player, he became very approachable as his career wound down. Younger guys probably take no issue contacting him, because, for the most part, that’s the Kobe they know.
Longtime veterans are a different story. Those who played against Kobe and felt his wrath for opponents probably aren’t using him as a confidant or late-career mentor. Then again, maybe they are. He was on a ton of All-Star teams. Him and Carmelo Anthony were friends even during his prime. His Mamba mentality was more persona and situational competitive drive than inherent character.
At any rate, while Bryant doesn’t miss playing in the NBA, per Medina, he hasn’t exactly left it behind either.