Kyle Kuzma is embarking on the next chapter of his NBA career after his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers after being a vital part of the Russell Westbrook trade. It allowed him to reflect on his time with the Lakers that extends well off beyond court. Kuzma chose to open up about an extraordinary workout experience he had with Kobe Bryant.
Kyle Kuzma traded from the Lakers to the Wizards
Kuzma spent the first four years of his NBA career with the Lakers, where he experienced many highs and lows.
The 25-year-old helped the franchise capture their 17th championship, but his inconsistent troubling play became a constant theme. He finished his fourth campaign averaging 12.9 points on 44.3% shooting from the floor and 36.1% from 3-point range, along with 6.1 rebounds in 28.7 minutes per contest.
However, Kuzma became an offensive non-factor in the playoffs, averaging 6.3 points on 23.5% shooting and an abysmal 10.8% shooting from beyond the arc. He recorded two double-digit scoring outings but finished his postseason showing by scoring just two points in the series-ending Game 6 loss against the Phoenix Suns.
It led him to become a key part of the trade that landed the Lakers the former league MVP. Kuzma heads to Wizards as he begins the first year of his three-year $39 million deal.
His struggles with consistency contributed to his departure, but it didn’t taint his perspective regarding his time in Los Angeles. It led him to pen a story about an unforgettable workout with his idol.
Kyle Kuzma remains blown away by his legendary training story with Kobe Bryant: ‘I thought it was the worst workout of my life’
During his stint with the Lakers, Kuzma developed a relationship off the court with the former franchise all-time great.
The 25-year-old jumped at the chance to go through an individual workout with the Hall of Famer before the 2019-20 season. However, it became an unforgettable experience for Kuzma in several different ways.
In his article for The Players’ Tribune titled “To My Lakers Family,” Kuzma detailed the entire situation. It began with Bryant showing up to the workout five minutes late. However, it quickly became the most challenging workout he experienced up to that point in his basketball career.
“And like I said, it’s August. That’s close enough to the season, where I’m typically thinking I’m in pretty good shape,” Kuzma wrote I’m running, I’m doing hills, I’m doing a bunch of conditioning things. But Kobe’s telling me, ‘Alright, we’re going to do this move, do that move. We got 25 reps of each movement.’
“Usually you’re in a gym and it’s like make 10, make 12, whatever. We’re doing 25 of each thing, man. I get done with this workout, I’m completely, completely dead tired. And I thought it was the worst workout of my life because I’m missing shots and stuff. But you know, we finish strong, shake hands and leave.”
Although Kuzma felt like he had a terrible showing in front of his idol, it resulted in positive feedback from the five-time NBA champion, leaving him with a moment he forever cherishes.
“I run into Rob the next day, and he says, ‘Aw man, Kobe said that y’all had a great workout. He said that you were in really good shape,” Kuzma recalled. “And I was like, No f–king way he said that. So funny, man. One little compliment from Kobe, that’s really all it takes. I’ll be telling my grandkids about the time Kobe said I was in shape. You keep stuff like that with you.”
Fresh new opportunity with the Wizards
Although Kuzma’s tenure with the Lakers came to a disappointing close, it’s open the door to a chance to reinvigorate his career.
The Utah product holds the opportunity to play in the extended role he didn’t receive in Los Angeles. Kuzma has shown flashes of promise but never sustained it with the Lakers due to his fluctuating role off the bench.
The 25-year-old may immediately step into the starting lineup in Washington, where he could become a primary offensive contributor behind All-Star guard Bradley Beal. In other words, it’s on his shoulders to make the most of the brand-new situation.