In February 2011 DeMarcus Cousins was a rookie making his first trip to be a part of All-Star Weekend festivities in Los Angeles by playing in the Rookie-Sophomore game.
At some point, a certain Lakers superstar pulled Cousins aside to tell him to get his act right, because he was too talented to get caught up in drama.
That superstar, of course, was Kobe Bryant, who announced Sunday that this season would be his last in the NBA.
You can count Cousins as one of the many younger players Bryant has offered advice or encouragement to over the years.
“Back then you’re still kind of in a fan mode,” Cousins said. “I’m pretty seasoned now. I’ve gained a relationship with Kobe, actually. We talked a lot this summer, actually, had some dinner with him this summer in Vegas. He’s a good, genuine dude.”
That Bryant is retiring after 20 seasons isn’t shocking, especially considering the injuries he’s dealt with the last three seasons.
But the announcement has led many players to reflect on the impact Bryant has had on them and the NBA.
“It’s crazy,” Cousins said. “I’ve been in five, six years and got a chance to play against this era’s Michael Jordan. And I also came up on Kobe so it’s going to be weird. But respect to one of the greats in this game and you hate to see him go. I mean I’m glad I don’t have to face him anymore but you hate to see him go.”