Jeremy Lin Has Become Not Only Kobe Bryant’s Teammate, but His Pupil

LOS ANGELES — On the one hand, they are two global icons.  

On the other hand Thursday night at Staples Center, they were just teammates talking on the bench, almost no one noticing them furthering a new relationship that is meaning more and more on a private level to both mentor and student.   

Kobe Bryant, knees encased in ice packs and done testing his body in the Los Angeles Lakers' second exhibition game, was using the fourth quarter to do what he was doing even before training camp began: teaching Jeremy Lin to think and play more like him.

Bryant looked out on the court, using both hands to show Lin what he saw—and what he envisioned could and should be happening. Lin listened intently. A few minutes later, Lin felt comfortable enough to joke with Bryant, leaning his left forearm into the 16-time All-Star as they spoke and Bryant cracking up at what Lin said.

Joining the Lakers via a trade with the Rockets in July, Lin said he found in his early interactions with Bryant that he is "such a normal guy away from everything...he's human."

Lin has learned a lot since then.

"He cares about all the little things," Lin said. "It's like the stuff that he talks to me about, I didn't ever think about it. Little stuff. I'm, like, 'Oh, OK. That's one way to look at it.' He's challenging me to expand my perspective.

"I think that's really important, and that's something that I love doing. It's a blessing that he's here in the same locker room."

The thrust of Bryant's lessons might surprise you.

Defense, where Bryant has let his game steadily fall off in recent seasons, and before that where he used to be mocked by Phil Jackson with jokes about Bryant not deserving his All-Defensive Team honors, is what Bryant is teaching Lin.

"Jeremy's biggest challenge, which he loves, is that I'm really going to challenge him...

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