Fortunately for Ed Davis, he's already realizing this, even if he's only been a member of the storied organization for a matter of days. The power forward signed a two-year contract worth $2 million, and though there's a player option for the second season, it's emerged as one of the deals with the most value signed throughout the NBA this offseason.
For Davis, it's not the money that's exciting so much as the opportunity to learn from Kobe, as he told BasketballInsiders.com's Alex Kennedy:
Most definitely, he's a legend and I can't wait to learn from him, ... There are some things that coaches can't teach you—the mental side of it and the stuff he knows from the things he's been through. I'm really looking forward to learning from him. Hopefully he can help me out and teach me a lot of things.
If you're looking to get on the legend's good side, that's a nice first step.
Davis and Kobe might not play the same position, but that doesn't mean the former can't become the mentee to the latter's mentor.
After all, the future Hall of Famer has one of the strongest mental games of all time, displaying an insane work ethic each and every night while refusing to give anything less than his best. He's a winner through and through. Cliche as that might sound, few have risen to the competitive level reached by the Mamba.
Hell, he's even advised Richard Branson on how to advance past success at success:
Davis hasn't yet reached the first level of success, much less success at success.
The 25-year-old has played for both the Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies during his young NBA career, and he hasn't been able to excel at either juncture. Though his per-minute numbers are undeniably impressive (11.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes over his career) and he's quite efficient, he has yet to average double digits in either the points or rebounds column.
As Bleacher Report's Tyler Conway explains, that's largely a product of opportunity, or a lack thereof:
While always talented and effective in limited minutes, it's arguable that Davis hasn't gotten a fair shake in either of his two NBA stops. The Raptors struggled to get him consistent playing time amid a crowded front line, and the Grizzlies had established veterans in Marc Gasol and [Zach] Randolph. Davis has never played 25 minutes per game in a season, and he's started only 58 games over his four-year career.
Given the crowded nature of the LAL frontcourt—one that features Davis, Carlos Boozer, Robert Sacre, Jordan Hill, Julius Randle and Ryan Kelly—minutes might still be hard to come by, but he's in a position to continue learning from legends.
"I've grown a lot, especially these last two years going from Toronto to Memphis and learning from Z-Bo and Marc [Gasol] every day, going through the battle of not playing and things like that...I definitely learned a lot from my rookie year to now by watching other pros and playing," Davis explained to Kennedy while expressing his excitement about becoming a part of the Lakers.
It's an understandable sentiment.
Not only does he have a new chance for some stability in a career that's soon to feature the fifth head coach of his short NBA life, but he has a chance to learn from one of the best. Even if footwork is one of the few applicable on-court skills he can glean from discussions and practice with Kobe, he can still pick a legend's brain on a nightly basis.
So long as the Mamba is willing to serve as a mentor—which he should, given the inherent youth of the roster surrounding him and those initial flattering overtures—Davis has a solid chance to take that next step in his still-promising NBA career.