Kobe Bryant had an impact on every player on the Golden State Warriors. Some players, like Steph Curry, clearly had a close relationship with the NBA legend, who stayed connected to the game in retirement, continuing to develop bonds with his fellow players.
Other players, like the Warriors rookies, surely grew up idolizing Bryant, and mimicking his moves on the court as their own games grew, even if they never interacted with him personally.
Only one player on the Warriors roster went through the intimate process of being Bryant’s teammate in the NBA: D’Angelo Russell.
Russell was drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2015 NBA Draft, a few months before Bryant began his 20th and final season. They shared the court - and perhaps more importantly, the locker room - for one season together.
After news broke that Bryant - along with his beloved daughter Gianna, and seven other people - had tragically died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Russell took to social media to pay tribute to his former teammate and mentor.
Alongside a montage of pictures of the two players, Russell caption the Instagram post, “Watched you closer than ever man, learned more than I could in such a short time, asked you more questions than ever. True Role Model. I find myself hearing every bit of advice you ever gave me. #legendary #mambamentality”
It’s safe to say that Tuesday’s game will be an emotional moment for Russell and all of his Warriors teammates.