Kobe Bryant is a student of the game of basketball, so even though the former Los Angeles Lakers star is retired, he still finds time to talk to the NBA’s biggest stars when asked for advice.
We know Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas reached out to Bryant earlier in the playoffs, including after the C’s fell behind 0-2 in their first-round series versus the Chicago Bulls.
Bryant described one of their conversations in a Tuesday column by ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. He and Thomas went over film to look at ways Thomas could attack opposing defenses.
“I’d see something and I’d tell him, ‘OK, go to 12:01,'” Bryant told MacMullan. “It was more a conceptual lesson how to watch film. What should you look for? You have so many eyes on you defensively, what should you do here, when they trap? And what should you do there?
“I was happy to help him. He had the courage to ask. I did the same thing with Michael Jordan when I was a young player.”
The Celtics won six straight games after dropping the first two matchups with the Bulls, and Thomas was at the forefront of Boston’s success during that span.
The win streak also included IT’s 53-point performance — the second-highest single-game scoring total in Celtics playoff history — in Game 2 of Boston’s second-round series against the Washington Wizards.
A Laker helping a Celtic win games might seem weird, but Bryant doesn’t think it’s a big deal at all.
“Well that’s complete nonsense,” Bryant said, per MacMullan. “I love watching IT play. Is he a superstar? I don’t even know that means. All I know is he goes out and competes every single night. He’s been playing at a level rarely seen. And he’s been doing it all year. If Russell and James hadn’t put in the outrageous seasons they had, you’d all be talking about Isaiah.”
Thomas struggled in each of the Celtics’ last two games, scoring a combined 32 points in a pair of losses that have evened their series against the Wizards at two games apiece.
Thomas should put in a call to Bryant ahead of Wednesday night’s pivotal Game 5 at TD Garden.
Thumbnail photo via Peter Llewellyn/USA TODAY Sports Images