Kobe Bryant has never exactly been held in the highest regard as a teammate. From his infamous, much-publicized feud with Shaquille O’Neal to his tirade directed at Andrew Bynum, to his various levels of contempt he holds for almost all fellow Lakers, Kobe Bryant the teammate doesn’t measure up to Kobe Bryant the basketball player. But maybe that’s changing as Kobe grows longer in the teeth.
“I’m frustrated,” Randle texted. “I just want to play basketball.”
“Patience,” Kobe Bryant responded to him.
“I’m 19 years old,” Randle wondered. “How do I have patience?”
“It’s the only choice,” Bryant told him.
Now, Randle is sitting in a corner booth of Don Chuy’s in Playa Vista on a sunny September afternoon and laughs, “I do see it now.”
Randle is forever grateful about the way his boyhood idol climbed down from the posters on his bedroom and into his basketball life.
“The biggest person to help get me through this was Kobe – by far,” Randle says.
Bryant has become an expert in patience and rehab the past few seasons, as various injuries and ailments – the most recent being a torn rotator cuff – have kept him out of action. Season-ending injuries were a new thing for Randle, and it must have been agonizing for a high-profile rookie to sit on the sidelines as his teamed wallowed in misery.
Bryant’s advice – or, if not his advice, then the very fact that Bryant was taking an interest in Randle – seems to have eased some of that agony.