While the two have gone head to head in the final years of Kobe’s career, they’re close after forming a friendship while a part of the Olympic Games in London in 2012. Kyrie was smart enough to take notes from the five-time champion, and now Kobe plays a huge role in his life. They even FaceTimed in the locker room when they won it all, according to an interview the Cavs point guard did with The Post Game (a tip of the hat to Bleacher Report for bringing this to our attention):
“I actually Facetimed Kobe [Bryant] after the game as soon as I got in the locker room. Other than seeing my dad and my sister right after we won, FaceTiming him was just a great thing, knowing how he has won five and I just won my first.
“[Bryant] was telling me congrats. I had been speaking to him throughout the entire playoffs and during the season. During the Finals, we didn’t really talk as much, because for me, I wanted to experience it full on, and if I needed his help, I would reach out to him. He would send me some texts here and there, but mainly he kind of let me be, and let me grow into my own space.
It must be a huge advantage to have a friend and mentor on your side like Kobe. After all, he really gets it. His first three were with Shaq, the most undeniably dominant player in the game at the time, a la LeBron James. Then he went on to lead his team to another two rings. It wouldn’t be surprising if Kyrie saw a similar path for himself. He said he has even more respect for Kobe now that he has won a ring.
“Realizing how hard it is just to win one, my respect for him is already high, but it went to another level knowing that he’s got five of them. I’m trying to get a second one”.
We’ll see what inner Mamba Kyrie can pull out this year because it’s likely he’ll be facing the new powerhouse Golden State Warriors if the Cavs again reach the Finals.