Kobe Bryant destroyed Damian Lillard with the blessing of the referees

Kobe Bryant

D’Angelo Russell remembers that game where he saw Kobe Bryant relay him on defense over Damian Lillard with crazy intensity.


Every player has a defining moment early in their career when they really realize they are in the NBA and need to step up. D’Angelo Russell recounted his, and it involves both Kobe Bryant, who he partnered with in his first NBA season, and Damian Lillard, his opponent that night in 2016. The Minnesota Timberwolves point guard narrated this little story during his appearance on JJ Redick’s podcast, « The Old Man and the Three. »

« We were in Portland and we were playing Dame. At the beginning of the game, the coaches told me, ‘You’re going to defend on him. Do you accept that challenge?’ Cool, no problem, I’ll do it. On the court, I was in awe. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s Damian Lillard.

The whole first quarter, it was like that. The guy was getting everything in. Long distance shots, three-pointers, fouls on me, baskets with the foul. One basket, then another, then another. I felt like I was isolated on an island with no one to help me.

Then we took a timeout. Kobe looked at me and said, ‘What are you looking for? So Kobe defended on him. And he basically brutalized him. The referees really didn’t want Kobe to get 6 fouls and they let him bully Dame. He shut him down. I saw the refs smash his face in while the refs were watching.

That’s also when I realized that the refs really had control of the game. »

The learning of the high level has been a little slow for D’Angelo Russell in Los Angeles. The Lakers lost a lot of games during his two years in California, despite the presence of Kobe Bryant. It wasn’t until Brooklyn that he really blossomed and turned the corner. We are still waiting to see if he will be able to reproduce in Minnesota what he did in BK, after his lightning passage in Golden State, in a particular context.

From his adventure in L.A. with Kobe Bryant, « D-Lo » has kept some good memories, but mostly a lot of regrets.

« When I think back, I missed out on so many valuable things that he was trying to pass on to me, just because I wasn’t there mentally.

I remember one day in Houston when I went to his room with his bodyguard. Kobe came in afterwards and explained to me that in order to not get distracted on his travels, to not go out on the town and have fun, he was setting up business meetings in each of them to learn how to build his brand and prepare for his life after basketball. »


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