Kobe Bryant may not have worn a Lakers uniform to help the team make shots, but he still drew up plays that led to the same outcome. Bryant may not have stayed on the floor to bark at his teammates, but he still did the same thing on the sideline. Bryant may have technically sat for seven consecutive games because of a shin injury. Yet, his presence remained looming as he became a defacto assistant coach.
But as Bryant instructed from the sidelines, who knew one of those eager pupils was actually a member of the Lakers’ coaching staff? Yet, there was Quin Snyder as one of many assistants under Mike Brown soaking up every word that Bryant had to say from the bench. Much has changed since that 2011-12 season. Snyder currently serves as the Utah Jazz coach, while Bryant plays for Byron Scott. Yet, that moment still stuck with Snyder.
“I went into the experience knowing there was a lot I could learn from him,” Snyder said. “I think players teach coaches as much as anything. If you pay attention to great players, they usually figure stuff out before we do. We notice it and try to teach it.”
Snyder soon departed for an assistant coaching gig with CSKA Moscow in Russia and parlayed that into an assistant coaching gig the past two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. But Snyder’s eagerness to learn and his infectious enthusiasm he displayed as a Lakers assistant marked one of many reasons why he made a lasting impression.
“He and I were pretty close,” Bryant said. “I had a great time with Quin. He’s really really smart and has a really high basketball IQ. I enjoyed being around him when he was here. I’m really happy he got that job.”
Utah spent the past week in Los Angeles for exhibitions against the Lakers (Thursday), Clippers (Friday) and Lakers again (tonight). So that gave Snyder a chance to catch up with former Lakers forward Matt Barnes (who plays for the Clippers), Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and Bryant.
Snyder respects Bryant so much that he declined to speculate how he will fare after appearing in only six games because of overlapping injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee. Snyder also wished Bryant’s “good health” after expressing gratitude for the observations he shared on the bench.
“He’s someone who taught me a lot about the NBA, just with the way the game has evolved and played,” Snyder said. “It has shaped me.”
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