Isaiah Thomas, like many basketball fans his age, grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant.
So when the Los Angeles Lakers came to town, Thomas reached out to Bryant’s camp, hoping to meet up with the probable future NBA Hall of Famer and possibly get a jersey signed, he told The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach.
“But he came and sat down and talked, just me and him, for like 20 minutes,” the Boston Celtics point guard told the Globe. “It was probably the best talk I’ve ever had.”
Thomas said he asked Bryant, known for being one of the NBA’s most driven and fiercest competitors, how he’s avoided distractions throughout his career.
“He told me this story about how a lion seeks food, whatever he’s gonna kill and eat,” Thomas said. “And you know how many bugs are on the lion’s eyes and gnats on his body? He’s so locked in on that zebra that he doesn’t get distracted by anything else. He said if you get distracted by little things, then you’re not as locked in as you think you are. He said for me to be a lion, and that’s gonna stick with me the rest of my life.”
Thomas certainly seemed to take note of Bryant’s lesson. With Boston’s TD Garden as loud as it’s been in years both cheering and booing for Bryant on Wednesday, Thomas scored 24 points on 7-of-13 shooting with seven assists.
“He even said, ‘If you need to know how to guard somebody, I know how to defend everyone, so just let me know,’” Thomas added. “I was just like, ‘Don’t offer too much, because I’ll be reaching out to you all the time.’
“But it was an amazing time for me, just because that’s somebody I grew up on. I told him I’ve been watching him since I was 7. It was an amazing moment.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Kobe bryant told Isaiah Thomas to be a lion