Kobe Bryant's loyalty to the Lakers runs deep.
The five-time NBA champ spent over two decades as the face of the most glamorous organisation in the league and his legacy only continue to grows as his retirement draws on.
Rarely has the mamba ever uttered a negative word or made a statement that could be construed as critical of the Lakers hierarchy, but he did just that last week.
Sure, he didn't come out and utterly lambast anyone or even say anything critical about anyone in particular inside the building, but it's rare that he ever speaks out these days so any comment is worth noting.
Bryant spent some time last week working out with impressive Celtics second year forward Jayson Tatum, and he was obviously impressed with the former Duke man as he had some interesting remarks to share with trainer Drew Hanlen after the workout.
Tatum grew up a die hard Kobe fan and even tries to mirror the former MVP's moves on the court, and it's clear that Bryant has a lot of admiration for the young star's game in return.
Speaking on “The Sidelines with Evan Daniels” podcast, Hanlen, who is Tatum’s long-time skills trainer revealed a bit of what went on during the workout and film session between his pupil and the former Lakers star.
“It was cool." Hanlen said of showing Bryant the tape of how similar his and Tatum's games are. "We actually showed Kobe it yesterday, and he was like, ‘Why didn’t the Lakers draft him?’ Which was pretty funny after seeing that. Jayson idolized Kobe.”
That's a big statement from a man with that much influence over the Lakers fanbase and whose opinion, quite frankly, outweighs that of any analyst on these matters.
Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka made the call to draft UCLA PG Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick in 2017, leaving Tatum on the board for the Celtics to snap up at number three.
After their rookie years, it's not hard to see who the better player is right now, and it's a legitimate query from Bryant. Ball struggled all year with scoring the ball and had an injury riddled first season in the NBA.
The polarising 20-year-old shot just 36% from the field but did post decent numbers overall averaging 10.2 points, 6.9 boards and 7.2 assists in what was a promising rookie year while he was healthy.
Somewhat contrastingly, Tatum set the league alight early, had a slight stutter around the All Star break but recovered in the latter stages of the regular season and the playoffs making a late push for rookie of the year honours.
The former Duke star averaged 18.5 points a contest in the Celtics run to the Eastern Conference Finals and announced himself as a future star of the league in the process.
It's not hard to see why Bryant would prefer Tatum over ball right now, especially after LeBron James' arrival in LA. Having the talented youngster as the the second or third option alongside James and Brandon Ingram for the next four years would be a potentially lethal combination on the offensive side and the Lakers did maybe miss a trick by not taking Tatum ahead of Lonzo.News Now - Sport News