Metta World Peace Playing Unlikely Wingman Role for Kobe Bryant Yet Again

LOS ANGELES — Metta World Peace was 14 years old the first time he stepped on a basketball court with Kobe Bryant.

It was in Providence, Rhode Island, a high school game featuring a pair of transcendent prodigies. World Peace, then a flinty teenager with muffled natural ability, and Bryant, still in the larval stage of becoming his own constellation, would both go on to have two of the most polarizing, memorable careers the NBA has ever seen.

But on that day, all their accomplishments lay unclaimed in the distance.

World Peace can still recall bits and pieces from their initial meeting: the whispers that Bryant was the next Grant Hill, a hyper-competitive 15-year-old whose mythology as we now know it had yet to weave a single thread. His jump shot was already a razor.

According to World Peace, Bryant fired a 50-point torpedo through his LaSalle Academy’s chest. The experience shook World Peace’s entire perspective and opened his eyes to how talented his competition could really be.

“[Kobe] kind of motivated me, actually, to continue to get better,” World Peace told Bleacher Report. “Because when I played against him, I wasn’t as skilled. I was always tough, but I wasn’t skilled. So, essentially, he had a lot to do with my motivation. If I want to be good and play with guys like this, I have to work on my game.”

World Peace and Bryant eventually teamed up to win a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, and after three years apart, that's again where they find themselves today.

That fact is remarkable on its own, considering their age, but what's more compelling is how their relationship has dovetailed—how they continue to serve each other in ways both obvious and unseen.

The two first became teammates when World Peace signed with the Lakers in 2009, supplying the defending champions with...

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