Kobe Bryant sits as one of the greatest players in NBA history. Bryant’s journey saw him draw influence from many of the game’s greats before him, including former Boston Celtics big man Bill Russell. The two fostered a special relationship that led Russell to voice an incredibly touching compliment to the former Los Angeles Lakers star.
Kobe Bryant held strong admiration toward Bill Russell
Bryant put together an incredible 20-year NBA career that firmly established him as an all-time great.
The former Lakers star’s success came through his hard work and dedication to his craft but was also inspired by many of the game’s greatest players that played before him. One of them was Russell, as he learned many lessons that he applied to his playing style and approach to the game.
“He has been an unbelievable mentor,” Bryant said of Russell back in 2016. “Especially from the standpoint of leadership and understanding groups, team dynamics and some of the experiences that he went through and how he was able to manage some of the teams that he played on, the difficulties he might have faced. He’s been an invaluable voice in my ear.”
Bryant credited Russell for aiding him to get through the different stages of his career, such as helping to mend the fences between him and O’Neal after they split in 2004. The 18-time All-Star also voiced that the Hall of Famer played a pivotal role in giving him the mental insight that laid the groundwork for winning his last two NBA titles.
The two shared a unique relationship that Russell encapsulated with an extremely meaningful compliment.
Kobe Bryant soaked up Celtics legend Bill Russell’s heartfelt compliment: ‘I couldn’t be more proud of you even if you were my own son’
Throughout the latter portion of Bryant‘s illustrious NBA career, he credited Russell as a vital piece in helping shape him as a player.
The Lakers star shared a unique relationship with the former Celtics great that extended off the court through sheer respect and admiration. Before Bryant played in the 2008 All-Star game, he and Russell shared a powerful personal moment, capped off by the latter voicing a tremendous compliment.
“Like seriously, I couldn’t be more proud of you even if you were my own son,” Russell said.
Bryant responded by stating “Thank you” repeatedly with an endearing look in his eyes before embracing the Hall of Fame big man. Russell’s comments deeply impacted him due to his connection and gratitude toward the iconic NBA great.
Nonetheless, it’s a special moment on camera that showcased Bryant’s unique bond with one of his mentors.
Lakers star left an everlasting imprint on the NBA
Russell’s comments provide another shining example of Bryant‘s impact on the NBA.
His tragic passing in January 2020 only further underlined his influence on the game of basketball. It far exceeded his success and dominance throughout much of his first-ballot Hall of Fame career.
Bryant’s mental approach to his craft garnered tremendous respect and left an everlasting imprint on the generations of talent that he played with and that came after him. His presence around the game remained prominent after he retired, as he worked with many of the game’s best players.
His pursuit of greatness led him toward constructing an incredible career while allowing him to garner a more significant gift from his peers.
“The coolest thing is the messages I receive from the players,” said in 2016 about his final NBA season via NBC Sports. “They say thank you for the inspiration, thank you for the lessons, for the mentality. Those things honestly mean the most from me, that respect from the peers, there’s nothing in the world that beats that.”
Beyond that, his place in NBA history is forever cemented.