Kobe Bryant told Lakers about playing small forward: 'I can do that'
You might not immediately associate Los Angeles Lakers superstar and future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant with being adaptable. For much of Bryant's career, the prevailing theme has been that it's his way or the highway. And it's worked out wonderfully for Bryant and the Lakers, to the tune of five NBA championships.
Because those rings are the thing, you see. Bryant is all about the titles, and outside of his pugnacious nature and some of the stubborn moments he had when he was younger, he's willing to do whatever it takes to capture at least one more championship.
In 2015-16 and beyond, if that means playing small forward, then so be it. Longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti announced on Monday that this season would be his last, and in talking about his time with the team, he shared a recent conversation he had with Bryant, via Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times:
"'He was asking about our young kids, and I said, 'You cannot believe how quick and athletic Jordan Clarkson is. He looks fantastic,'' Vitti said. 'I said I personally thought D'Angelo Russell is going to be a star. He makes hard things look easy when he has the ball in his hands.''
"'Then Kobe said to me, 'Well, then who's going to play [small forward]?' I looked at him and I said, 'You.' And with absolute, 100% confidence, he said, 'I can do that.''"
And it's something Bryant has done in the past, although for very brief stretches. Basketball-Reference.com estimates the time a player has spent at each position during the regular season, and that database goes back to the 2000-01 season. Since that time, Bryant has spent 89 percent of the Lakers' possessions at shooting guard, with nine percent of his minutes at small forward.
It'll be a chance for Bryant and the Lakers, then. But this season should be defined by transition. And if it leads Los Angeles back to the promised land, then Bryant is all for the switch.
(h/t LA Times)