Growing up in the Los Angeles area, every young kid playing basketball was raised as a Lakers fan and taught wearing a purple and gold jersey is the dream. The Lakers franchise is so established and glorious that even players from all over the world, not only LA find playing for them so desirable.
The current generation of players out of LA grew up watching Kobe Bryant be the king of LA, winning numerous championships and establishing himself as one of the best players in NBA history. His unbelievable work ethic and competitive spirit are what really differentiated Kobe from the other stars, as "The Mamba" mentality became an iconic term in the NBA world.
Kobe really earned his status of an insane competitor, as it's hard to find those types of players in the NBA anymore. Players that give it their all night in and night out are a rare breed, as the era of load management really softened up the league. But one of the guys that never changed and actually displayed competitive spirit comparative to Kobe's is who other than Russell Westbrook.
A LA native, Westbrook, is one of the most electrifying players in the history of the NBA and one of the most impressive statistical individuals ever. The only thing left to achieve on his resume is winning a championship, and this season will be a great opportunity. Going back home to be a Laker alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis allowed Westbrook to be a part of a Big 3 that could storm the league if fitted correctly.
Russell recently made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and he talked about various topics, but mainly his homecoming to Los Angeles. Westbrook also shared a great story about playing versus Kobe Bryant while he was still at UCLA and learning what it takes to such an elite player:
"Going into my sophomore season at UCLA, and a lot of pick-up games at UCLA were happening, a lot of superstars would come, but this particular day Kobe came, and I'm now super-hyped and super-juiced...to me Kobe is the best in the world, and I had the opportunity to compete and me and Kobe you know not going back and forth because he was basically killing me, but it's okay. But the number one lesson I got in that, watching him and to this day I think we all know as 'The Mamba' mentality, but when I was younger and watching him, he was competing like it was the Finals, and to me, it was so inspiring because it allowed me to understand like this is what you need to be like regardless of where you at, what you doing, however, you plan and I took that attitude and ran with it."
Russell Westbrook, ">Jimmy Kimmel Live
That explains why Westbrook plays every single game like it's his last, as that kind of willpower and energy is unmatched in today's NBA. That attitude is admirable and guaranteed to make you a winner, as Kobe's influence on the rest of the NBA is really impactful. Westbrook also shared his reasoning behind choosing to wear #0 on his jersey for his whole career, as Sideline Sources covered that topic.