Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has been a mentor and friend to Boston Celtics All-Star guard Kyrie Irving throughout much of his NBA career, as Irving has consistently gone to Bryant for advice on various issues. Irving even FaceTimed Bryant from the locker room after the Cavaliers had defeated the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA title in 2016. Thus, it's not so surprising that Bryant has some advice for Irving when it comes to his progression and continued development as a player.
"The next move for [Kyrie] is figuring out how to get the most out of the pieces around him," Bryant said, via Mass Live. "That's really hard. And understanding how do you find an emotional connection with each player, figure out what their fears are, and help turn those fears into strengths. And to do that you have to put time in. And I don't mean time in the gym. I mean time listening. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Talking to guys, listening to what they're saying."
For Bryant, it took nearly a decade and a half into his Lakers career before he learned to maximize his connection with his teammates.
"[I learned] after we lost to the Celtics [in 2008]. Because Michael [Jordan] told me the same thing. He said, 'Listen, you have all the individual tools. Now you have to figure out how to connect with each one of those guys and bring the best out of those guys. It's not about just passing them the ball and saying that's what makes guys better. That's not it. You have to figure out how to touch the right buttons to make them want to be the best versions of themselves. How do you do that? And that was my challenge in '09 and 2010, I was able to figure it out. And that's what Kyrie has to figure out."
You can see Kobe's comments below, via Sirius XM:
Irving has already had his fair share of success over the course of his NBA career, but it's no secret that he has had trouble connecting with his teammates at times. If he is able to apply Bryant's advice to his own approach he could take another step as both a player and a leader.