Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics were able to climb out of a 0-2 hole against the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Playoffs, and Thomas received a little help from an unlikely mentor.
Kobe Bryant reached out to Isaiah Thomas upon hearing the tragic news of his younger sister's death, giving his condolences and extending an open invitation to Isaiah for any help he needed. It was a touching gesture, and one that Thomas would take Kobe up on.
Isaiah has gone on record about how Bryant's helped him, but now it's Kobe who's discussing the relationship he has with Thomas and what kind of things they talked about. Unsurprisingly, it was about more than just strategy.
Bryant gave an insightful interview to Jackie MaMcullan of ESPN, detailing his relationship mentoring several superstars in the NBA. He gave some very thorough information on how he's worked with Thomas in that.
Isaiah revealed to Kobe that he wasn't sure whether he should play Game 1 of the Celtics' opening round, struggling to handle the sudden loss of his sister. Bryant had an encouraging message to help Thomas make his decision.
"I told him, 'Listen, I don't know whether you should decide to play or not play. Obviously none of us can begin to fathom what you are going through right now.
"But then I told him, 'The one bit of advice I would give you is, if you are going to play, then you gotta play. Maybe you can find some peace in moments out there,"" Bryant told ESPN.
So what exactly did Kobe work with Thomas on? The duo began breaking down film after the Celtics found themselves down two games, with Isaiah in need of an answer to help dig his team out of what looked like a very deep hole.
"I'd see something and I'd tell him, 'OK, go to 12:01.' It was more a conceptual lesson how to watch film. What should you look for? You have so many eyes on you defensively, what should you do here, when they trap? And what should you do there?," Bryant said.
As for Lakers fans feeling conflicted about Kobe indirectly helping the Celtics, he wrote off the notion that he was going against the puple-and-gold rule book.
"Well that's complete nonsense. I love watching IT play. Is he a superstar? I don't even know what that means. All I know is he goes out and competes every single night. He's been playing at a level rarely seen," Bryant said.
It's a very cool story, and a reminder that as much as Kobe may seem like a basketball and marketing machine, he's still a compassionate human underneath it all.