When NBA superstars teach youngsters a thing or two, they normally infuse them with a fraction of their skills. But since the late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was cut from a different cloth, he didn’t mind telling a young Jordan Clarkson to emulate the playing style of another NBA superstar.
Be like Steph
During Clarkson’s rookie season with the Lakers, Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry hit his stride. On the other hand, Bryant was in the twilight years of his Hall of Fame career.
In Kobe’s head, the Lakers could have their own Curry in Clarkson. So, instead of teaching the youngster his moves, Bryant studied Curry’s game and tried injecting it into Clarkson’s repertoire.
“[Kobe’s] been stressing to me being able to play off the ball, move without the ball,” Clarkson told Bleacher Report in 2016. “He’s always harping on me, talking about Steph Curry. We all see him for his flashy dribbles and stuff like that, but the dude is always moving, and that’s why he gets open shots.”
Of course, Clarkson didn’t become the Lakers’ version of Steph. However, he admitted that he became the version of himself as a player because of that.
“I feel like that’s when I started playing my best basketball,” he continued.
Kobe loved to teach
Pleased with how Bryant took him under his wing in LA, Clarkson ensured he was there whenever he got the chance to learn from Black Mamba. In 2018, the Lakers shipped Clarkson to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the summer of 2019, Bryant held a special two-day summer training session at his Mamba Sports Academy.
Clarkson learned that the main facility was near his Woodland Hills, California home, so he didn’t let the opportunity slide. As expected, Bryant “broke everything down” for them once again.
“I feel like those two days I learned so much and it was great. Amazing process,” Clarkson said.”…He showed us how to make the game easier. One big thing he was hitting on was getting an assist to get another assist. It was stuff like that. Showing you how to set up guys, play in the pick and roll. It was everything. He was coaching and basically broke everything down for us.”
Needless to say, Clarkson will forever be grateful for everything Bryant did for him, especially in his formative years in the NBA. And though he didn’t become the next Curry, everybody could tell Kobe’s efforts to make him a great player paid off.