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Anthony Davis Says It 'Would've Been Like a Dream' to Play with Kobe Bryant on Lakers

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 15, 2021

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Anthony Davis said Friday it would have been "a dream" to play alongside Kobe Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers.

Davis explained he forged a friendship with Bryant, who'll be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, while playing together for the United States national team.

The five-time NBA champion was impressed with Davis' development into one of the league's best players.

"I know he always talked about [how] he loved playing with me and against me in the Olympics [at practice] and seeing how much I've grown as a player," Davis told reporters. "He could only imagine what it would be like now. But [he] never actually came out and said, 'I would like for you to be on the Lakers with me.' Which would have been a dream, to be honest."

Bryant died in a January 2020 helicopter crash that also killed his daughter, Gianna, and seven other people in Calabasas, California.

He was selected to the 2020 Hall of Fame class, one of the most star-studded groups in history with Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Tamika Catchings among the other inductees, but the ceremony was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kobe will be presented by NBA legend Michael Jordan on Saturday.

In 2018, Bryant told ESPN's Jalen Rose it took a "special" type of player to accept the burden of carrying the Lakers' legacy forward, and he believed those up to the task didn't need recruitment:

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"You know, the thing about this franchise is that you shouldn't need recruiting to come in it. It takes a special person to want to play for this franchise and take the pressure that comes along with playing for this franchise. The pressure of following Magic [Johnson]'s footsteps, myself and the dynasty that we've had, it takes a special person to do that. And if I need to convince you to come here, to carry that legacy forward, then you ain't the one to be it."

Davis was traded to the Lakers in July 2019 to link up with LeBron James, and the superstar tandem led the franchise to its 17th championship last year, its first title since the Bryant-led 2010 squad.

The 28-year-old Chicago native also discussed Kobe's lasting legacy Friday:

"I think his impact was very powerful before the tragedy. I think he became even more impactful on our youth, on our generation. I just think that, I mean, you can see it with everyone wearing his shoes. Even before, the way he approached the game, the way he went about his life, his work ethic, I think he was very impactful.

"Just for me, just being someone that was knowing him since I stepped foot in the league, all the way back to the USA team, seeing everything he did on the floor, off the floor kind of inspired me to follow that same path and have that same work ethic. And then just being here in a Laker uniform, it's even more inspiring for me to try to continue the legacy that he built here. And I think that goes for guys all around the league, just being able to realize the importance of his body of work on our game and for our generation. He's the guy that everyone looked up to and wanted to be like."

Davis added he carries Bryant's Mamba mentality "all throughout my life now," saying it's a "great mindset to have, to be honest."

The Lakers have a road game against the Indiana Pacers at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, which will give them enough time to finish the contest in time to watch the Hall of Fame enshrinement, which begins at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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