Kobe Bryant may have donned the L.A. Lakers jersey for the final time, but the five-time NBA champion is far from forgotten.
Left in the Black Mamba's legendary wake is a promising young bunch of players in L.A. who have a new guiding light in the recently appointed head coach, Luke Walton.
So who is going to pick up the slack now that Kobe has ridden off into the sunset? While no man can ever truly replace a one-of-a-kind star like Kobe, guard Jordan Clarkson is determined to put some of the 18-time All-Star's advice to good use.
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Clarkson told Hypebeast that there is a different feel about the franchise now that Bryant has called him on his 20-year Lakers career.
"It’s going to feel different, but at the same time, we’re beginning our own paths now," Clarkson said. "There is definitely going to be something missing with him being gone, even throughout the entire NBA. Everyone is so used to seeing Kobe in that Lakers jersey. It’s definitely going to be different but we will get through it."
One of the main things Clarkson wants to carry forward from Bryant is the legendary work ethic Vino became synonymous with.
"Yeah, I’ve been in the league for two years now.," Clarkson said when asked if he would be stepping up next term. "My story is different than a lot of rookies and the guys that we have on our team. I’m definitely going to share my advice as much as I can to help these young guys succeed. At the same time try to set an example like Kobe did with his great work ethic."
So what parting advice did Kobe bestow upon Clarkson?
"Just to continue to work hard and to work together. He told us to keep grinding and to grow with each other. That stuck with me throughout this free agency process as well."
The Lakers are sure to improve next season from the franchise-worst record of 17-65 they managed in 2015-16, but their days of contending for titles is still a while off yet.