There’s plenty of things Kendall Marshall has tried to digest into morphing from a Development League castoff to the Lakers’ starting point guard.
It goes beyond adjusting to the NBA level, mastering Mike D’Antoni’s playbook or playing with new teammates on the fly. Marshall has also discovered first-hand Kobe Bryant’s hard to impress.
A day after posting 20 points and 15 assists in the Lakers’ win Friday over Utah in his first start donning purple and gold, Marshall made an innocent request to Bryant in less than 140 characters.
— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) January 4, 2014
So far, no good. Neither has Bryant offered any public or private words of encouragement.
“I thought maybe if I tweeted him, he’d respond,” Marshall said. “I figured it was something that would be kind of funny. I like to show my personality to fans.”
A stretch to presume Bryant’s taking the same stance to Marshall as he did to Dwight Howard, who was instantly unfollowed the moment he left the Lakers this offseason for the Houston Rockets. But Bryant posted something else on his Twitter account suggesting he may reduce the number of people he follows than increase it.
New follow system comin.. 2 much clutter as it is #twitnoise
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 4, 2014
Marshall has seemed active on his Twitter account, which he said has grabbed an additional 9,000 followers since his breakout game against Utah. Marshall pretended to be offended by a fan that posted a picture suggesting Marshall looks like former Lakers center Vlade Divac. Wrote Marshall, “whoever made that, I hope you run into a coffee table with your shin.”
“I thought it was kind of funny,” Marshall said. “That’s the first time I got that comparison. I heard them all. It’s all fun. I enjoy it.”
Beyond messing around on his Twitter account, it doesn’t appear Marshall has basked too much in his celebrity.
He’s displayed a humble demeanor to reporters, repeatedly praising teammates for communicating to him and for Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni giving him an increased opportunity amid an endless barrage of backcourt injuries to Bryant (left knee), Steve Nash (back), Steve Blake (right elbow), Jordan Farmar (left hamstring) and Xavier Henry (right knee). Marshall blamed himself for the Lakers nearly squandering a double-digit lead against Utah. Marshall also has a contract worth $547,570 that doesn’t become fully guaranteed until after Jan. 10.
But Marshall remains on cloud nine entering the Lakers’ (14-19) game tonight against the Denver Nuggets (15-17) at Staples Center for reasons beyond his increased role.
Marshall will also square up against speed point guard Ty Lawson in what could mark a significant test on his NBA acclimation. Marshall, a former standout at Bishop O’Connell in Arlington, Va. North Carolina and Bi, also grew up admiring Lawson playing with nearby Bishop McNamara and later with the Tarheels. Marshall holds Lawson in such high reverence that he even addresses him by his full first name, Tywon.
“He’s one of those guys I looked up to,” Marshall said. “It’s one of those things now where one of your idols becomes your rival. I’m excited to play against him and hopefully get the best of him.”
Marshall won’t have a chance to do that against Chris Paul when the Lakers play the Clippers Friday in a designated road game at Staples Center. Paul remains sidelined for the next three to five weeks because of a separated right shoulder. But it still strikes Marshall when he attended Paul’s camp as a high school student.
“He has no weaknesses,” Marshall said. “That’s something every player strives toward. There’s those few elite guys where it’s hard to find a weakness in their game. That’s the main thing. His hunger. He has that dog in him and he’s always out there to step on your throat. That’s what I admire about him.”
Should Marshall ever reach that level, perhaps that would finally convince Bryant to follow him.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org