Introducing NBA Lead Writers: Los Angeles Lakers Columnist, Kevin Ding

Editor's Note: Kevin Ding has joined Bleacher Report full time to cover the Los Angeles Lakers. We asked Kevin, who has previously contributed to Bleacher Report, to introduce himself and his work.

The first words Kobe Bryant ever said to me came with a sideways smile.

“I look forward to reading your criticisms.”

Bryant was 20, nearing the end of his third NBA season with stardom and backlash already his reality show. He stood, spoke and soon laughed in front of his locker at The Forum, the Lakers’ old home, in 1999.

Already cocksure then, still cocksure now.

Today he’s 35, and we’ve been together every step of that way…with an awful lot transpiring in what has to be considered one of the most interesting lives you’ll ever see play out.

And in all honesty, there are not many people in my life I understand better than him.

Nearly 15 years together is part of it. But the other part is that I’ve made it my business while covering one of the most glorious eras for any team in any sport—five NBA championships and two other NBA Finals—to understand far more than what the Lakers’ stats and scores have been.

I take an interest in people in both my private life and professional career. They automatically become more interesting when they compete on a stage where they win or lose, they try hard or don’t, they learn from what happens or are unable to grow with experience.

Speaking of the latter, I can also say honestly that I understand Dwight Howard, even after just one season covering him. He's not a bad person, but he's naive about almost everything in this world, wanting all of us to revolve around him whether he earns the attention or doesn’t. Some guys want it to be given to them, and others won’t accept less than their absolute best.

There's no myster...

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