Kobe Bryant still profoundly influencing the Los Angeles Lakers in 2024

Kobe Bryant spent 20 years leading the Los Angeles Lakers to remarkable heights. In 2024, the five-time NBA champion is still influencing the Lakers' success.
Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns
Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Few players epitomize the legacy of the Los Angeles Lakers quite like Kobe Bryant. Between 1996 and 2016, Bryant was the face of the NBA's premier organization, evolving from a rising star who complemented Shaquille O'Neal to the unequivocal franchise player.

A five-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP, one-time NBA MVP, and two-time scoring champion with 15 All-NBA nods and 12 All-Defense selections, Bryant's résumé is simply special.

Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016 and tragically passed away in 2020. In a testament to his incomparable legacy, his fingerprints continue to be all over what the Lakers are building, including the championship they won in 2019-20 and the Conference Finals they reached just last season.

In an appearance on the Join The Lobby podcast, Lakers franchise player Anthony Davis spoke about his experience on Team USA, calling Bryant a mentor who taught him how to approach the game.

"Obviously he was a mentor. Not just to me but a lot of guys in the league...saw him getting up early in the morning to work out. I shot with him, we lifted weights together, so for me it was like, ‘Oh, this is how you train.’ He showed me how to be a professional."

As Davis noted, he's one of the many to view Bryant as a mentor.

Davis was a member of Team USA during the 2012 Summer Olympics, when Bryant and LeBron James led the star-studded team to a gold medal. 12 years later, Davis has put together a résumé that's all but guaranteed to lead to an induction into the Hall of Fame whenever that time comes.

That includes the fact that Davis co-starred alongside James in 2019-20, when they delivered the Lakers' first championship since Bryant led L.A. to back-to-back titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Davis is one of the many involved with the current iteration of the Lakers who has a connection to Bryant. General manager Rob Pelinka, for instance, was Bryant's agent, while superstar LeBron James was close friends with The Black Mamba.

That connective tissue has been impossible to overlook during the high points of the Davis, James, and Pelinka era in Los Angeles.

Bryant, who earned the unique honor of having two different numbers retired by the Lakers, is missed dearly by players and fans of every team. His style of play and Mamba Mentality has inspired countless NBA players across multiple generations.

As the Lakers move forward with Davis at the heart of their plans for a return to championship glory, the connection to Bryant inspires faith that success could be attained once more.