D’Angelo Russell Ignored Lessons Kobe Taught Him As A Rookie, Now He Regrets It

D’Angelo Russell regrets ignoring Kobe Bryant when he was teaching him critical lessons in his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Getty Image / Mike Stobe / Contributor

In 2015, the 19-year-old D’Angelo Russell joined the Lakers after Los Angeles had selected him with the second overall pick in that year’s NBA Draft. In his rookie campaign, Russell had the benefit of having NBA great Kobe Bryant as his teammate and mentor. However, D’Angelo was only 19-years-old at the time, and the rookie was unfortunately too immature at the time to tap into the basketball temple of knowledge that is Kobe Bryant. Now, D’Angelo regrets not learning the lessons that Kobe was attempting to teach him.

D’Angelo Russell gave an interview to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, where he reminisced about his first year in the Association, and the lost opportunity of playing alongside Kobe Bryant.

“Looking back on it, he dropped so many jewels on me that I didn’t even hear because I was not there mentally,” Russell reminisced.

There was one moment that stood out in Russell’s first year, an extremely seminal lesson that the elder Lakers player was trying to instill in the rookie. It wasn’t about conditioning over the long 82-game season or how to get an edge over your defender, it was a gem of wisdom for D’Angelo’s future off the court.

“I remember one time we were in Houston, and I went to his room with his security guard,” Russell recalled. “Kobe comes in and says, ‘You know, when you go on these road trips, you want to have fun, you want to turn up, you want to do all that in these cities.’ But he said, ‘I gained an edge by taking meetings on these road trips, business meetings. What can I do to establish my brand, figure out what I like to do, advance my life after basketball?’”

“But looking back on it, I’m like, man, he was really teaching me what’s really relevant now and a lot of kids don’t get it until they’re 8-10 years in and realize what they want to do,” D’Angelo said. “Then they attack it, but they’re on their way out and their (ability to make money) isn’t the same.”

Russell gets it now and wishes he could go back to his rookie year and absorb all of the knowledge that Kobe was giving him in his last season in the NBA.

At the time, the message was lost on Russell, but most 19-year-olds wouldn’t understand the value of planning for the future, especially after he had just been selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the #2 pick and had an NBA salary of over $5 million. But now, Russell understands the value of financial planning, especially after agreeing to a 4-year deal worth $117,325,500 with the Brooklyn Nets before his sign-and-trade to the Golden State Warriors.

A few weeks ago, Russell told ESPN that his first season, which was Kobe’s farewell tour, was a “blur.” “I remember Kobe more than anything,” Russell said of his first year with the Lakers. “The Kobe farewell tour, getting to be a part of that, see the respect that he has around the league. I’ve always been that I wanted that.”

Russell was asked what his advice to a young player coming into the league, and he responded, “Enjoy the process.”

Russell’s story about Kobe was much more warmhearted than the bittersweet memories of Bryant that Nick Young had from his Lakers days. You can read what Young had to say about having Kobe as a teammate and how the Black Mamba would bully Jeremy Lin in practice HERE.