LeBron James has widely been regarded as the greatest player, alongside Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. In fact, Bryant himself ended the GOAT debate by keeping himself first, followed by Jordan and James. Being on the same team as Bryant, James has always been thought of as the next Kobe Bryant. However, Rob Pelinka thinks otherwise, as he believes that Austin Reaves has the “Mamba Gene”.
Rob Pelinka, who is the general manager, and Darvin Ham, who is the coach for the Lakers, addressed the media and also spoke about the new sensation, Austin Reaves. Pelinka revealed that no one is surprised by Reaves’ growth, as they were involved in scouting him and developing him. He stated, “He uniquely has that sort of Mamba gene, where it’s all about the work”.
Rob Pelinka on Austin Reaves: “Austin’s growth isn’t a surprise to any of us… He uniquely has that sort of Mamba gene, where it’s all about the work.” pic.twitter.com/7pWBh4MxOG
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) September 28, 2023
Furthermore, Pelinka emphasized, “It’s about playing competitively on every play, it’s about being a great teammate, not caring about the personal accolades, but just the team winning”. He spoke about his growth with Team USA and that everyone is proud of him. Additionally, Rob Pelinka believes that Reaves has gained respect from other coaches and players as well.
It is undeniable that in such a short period of time, Reaves has emerged as a key player for the Lakers. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2021. Due to his remarkable performance, he earned a contract extension of four years worth a staggering $54 million. Additionally, his college stats are proof that he is here to make it big and leave a legacy.
Austin Reaves’ favorite memory of Kobe Bryant was his last game
The similarity between Austin Reaves and Kobe Bryant in terms of work ethic is not a coincidence. Reaves has on various occasions mentioned that he was a fan of Kobe Bryant. Notably, the 25-year-old has also revealed that he could have done anything to meet the Black Mamba. So on, it is likely that as he grew up idolizing Bryant, he drew inspiration for his work ethic.
Furthermore, in an appearance on the ‘All The Smoke‘ podcast, Reaves spoke about his favorite memory of Bryant and left everyone teary-eyed. He revealed, “For me, it was probably his last game. I remember I was watching it in my brother’s room, actually…and we’re two hours behind in Arkansas so it was probably 11:30 p.m”. Furthermore, Reaves went into details of how he was by the end of the game.
In his own words, “Towards the end of the game, I’m up screaming, jumping. I’m lit. And my mom opens the door and she’s like ‘Is everything okay?’ I was like ‘Get the hell out of here. Go back to bed. This is real”. This revelation didn’t come as a surprise as that game was truly iconic with Kobe Bryant scoring 60 points.
Additionally, Rob Pelinka emphasized how for Reaves, the focus is on winning more championships for the organization. Something that every fan would agree was Bryant’s most loved quality, as he led the Lakers to a staggering five NBA championship wins. Fans await to see how Reaves leads the team in the 2023-24 NBA season to win a championship and strengthen his status as the one with the mamba gene.