Rather than shy away from the expectations and pressure that comes with openly identifying with Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, Kyle Kuzma has embraced them.
Perhaps more so than Brandon Ingram or fellow rookie Lonzo Ball, Kuzma has sought out to be the franchise’s next win-at-any-cost icon. Though, it is Ingram who was given Bryant’s old locker inside Staples Center.
Each of the Lakers’ three young players had moments where they demonstrated the proverbial ‘Mamba Mentality’ this season. Kuzma in particular had stretches where he was locked in the zone and managed to take over games late in the fourth quarter.
But for as much affinity as he has for the five-time champion, Kuzma still went with LeBron James as the best player of the generation, while also picking the Golden State Warriors to win the 2018 NBA Finals, via the “Inside The Zone with Chris Broussard” podcast:
“Um… Golden State. It’s tough. It’ll be interesting. I want to see how they do against Houston. I think Houston’s had a phenomenal season. Bron is Bron. I’m never going to count him out, because he’s the greatest player of this generation. No question. … It’s hard to go against Kobe but, I mean, he’s been to the Finals seven straight times.”
With James playing at a remarkable level in his 15th season, it’s reignited the endless debate over whether he is better than Bryant, and if he’s surpassed Michael Jordan. The argument naturally tends to be one that’s generational-based.
Allen Iverson recently voiced his dismay with the tendency for Bryant to get overlooked by James when ranking the league’s all-time players, and TNT analyst Charles Barkley also placed Bryant ahead of James.
But while Barkley, Iverson and Kuzma might have their opinions and thoughts on who the superior player is, Bryant has said he doesn’t waste any time contemplating the topic because it’s something that can never be definitively determined.