With Danny Green out of the Staples, the Lakers were searching for a 3-and-D veteran to fill the void Green’s departure has left. They did it by signing Wesley Matthews – a 34-year-old shooting guard who is coming off a 67- game season with the Bucks where he averaged 7.4 PPG on .364 shooting from long range.
Thus Matthews joins the organization his dad Wes Matthews played for during the 80s, which Wesley described as a great honor during his introduction videoconference on Tuesday. The 11-year veteran also revealed another connection he had with the Lakers before joining the franchise, as he talked about the relationship he had developed with the late great Kobe Bryant after tearing his Achilles in ’15 – two years after Kobe went down with the same injury. It turns out Bryant helped Wes get through the recovery process, and Matthews couldn’t help but get emotional talking about it.
He didn’t have my number, and we didn’t reach out any time before that. But I’m pulling into my driveway, and I remember I get a call, and I have no idea what this number is, and it’s Kobe, and he was just sharing his wisdom about it, and it really helped motivate me because he was honest. And he said it was hard, you know? He said it’s going to be hard.Wesley Matthews, LA Times
Kobe told it like it was, and as Matthews said, “at the time, that’s not what you want to hear, but it’s what I needed to hear.” When everyone was sugarcoating it, Bryant told him exactly what he would go through, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And according to Wesley, that was exactly the push he needed.
Matthews made a full recovery, as he played in 78 games the very next season. He’s been a constant contributor ever since, no matter the team he was on, as he’ll look to make the same impact with the Lakers in their attempt to go back-to-back. And while Wes focuses on his performances on the court, he’ll continue to be a source of inspiration for others in the NBA who deal with an Achilles tear. He did it with Demarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, and Rodney Hood, and Matthews will continue to do it the same way Kobe had done it for him.
This thing is a fraternity; it’s a brotherhood, it really is. You never want to see anybody go down. And if you’ve been through something, then you want to share it. You always want to pass it down and pass it on. And that’s one thing that Kobe did for me, and I wish that I could thank him again. But if I could be that for other people, I’ll gladly do that.Wesley Matthews, LA Times
Let’s hope Matthews does the same with Klay Thompson. You know Kobe would’ve already been on his phone, saying something like, “Klay, let’s not beat around the bush, it’s going to be a challenge…“