Kobe Bryant: Kawhi Leonard Wanted Challenge of Winning Without LeBron James

Kawhi Leonard chose L.A.’s other NBA squad as a free agent this summer to prove he could win in at the highest level—in LeBron James‘s backyard—according to Kobe Bryant.

Bryant says Leonard and new Clippers teammate Paul George both “relish the challenge of taking on something new.”

Kobe adds that James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers are obviously no slouches themselves, setting the stage for what promises to be a thrilling Staples Center rivalry.

Per The LA Times:

“I’ve known them both for a very long time, and they’re both tough, very inquisitive,” Bryant said. “I remember sitting with Kawhi during All-Star weekend when he was a rookie. We were at a Nike suite and he came by and sat next to me and starting peppering me with questions about the game and summer regimens. It was the same with P.G.

“They’re so competitive on both ends of the floor. It’s not a tit-for-tat thing where you score and I score. They don’t believe in that. It’s ‘You can’t stop me and I will shut you down.’ That’s a different mentality. Not a lot of players have that.”

George and Leonard grew up in Southern California, looking up to Bryant and watching the Lakers win championships.

“I’m sure Kawhi wants to take the challenge of winning independent of playing with LeBron,” Bryant said. “Maybe that was the same for P.G. I think they relish the challenge of taking on something new. I don’t think it was a slight at the Lakers. It was more about circumstances and what was already here in L.A. and on the Lakers, and they wanted to take the challenge of building something new.

“But the Lakers did OK. I saw a lot of Lakers fans were very disappointed, and rightfully so, that they didn’t get Kawhi. But you did get Anthony Davis. The Lakers have two freaks of nature. They’re going to be fine. It’s a hell of a time to be in L.A.”

Related Kawhi Leonard ‘Feeling Way Better Than I Was at the Start of Last Season’

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