INDIANAPOLIS — The chirping constantly flooded Jordan Hill’s ears as he went up and down the court. He could hear Kobe Bryant yelling in practice and during games about anything imaginable.
He would bark out instructions to teammates. He would pull teammates to the side and point out various tactics. He would talk trash to opponents. He would do the same thing to teammates in practice.
All of which Hill said he loved during his 3 1/2 seasons with the Lakers before signing with the Indiana Pacers this offseason as a free agent.
“He’s bringing out the best out of his teammates and he wants the best out of his team,” Hill told Los Angeles News Group. “He’s a winner. You have to be prepared for it. Not a lot of people can handle it. But he deserves everything he gets.”
Hill does not expect anything less when the Lakers (11-42) visit the Indiana Pacers (27-24) on Monday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in what will mark Bryant’s final game here. After the Lakers acquired him from Houston for Derek Fisher and a first-round pick in 2012, Hill largely credited Bryant toward eventually posting career-highs last season in points (12.), rebounds (7.9) and minutes played (26.8).
“His competitiveness added to my competitiveness when I was out on the court,” Hill said. “So I tried to be a better player and compete, too.”
Yet, the Lakers became increasingly frustrated with both Hill’s inconsistency and work habits. Despite Hill’s continual progression, his energy level waned admittedly from struggling with both his focus and diet. The Lakers declined to exercise Hill’s $9 million team option amid the team’s flood frontcourt and heavy priority toward big men in free agency.
“I had my good time there,” Hill said. “I had fun. We didn’t win as much. We went to the playoffs a couple of years. But it is a business.”
Meanwhile, Hill reported the Pacers became “very interested,” before signing him to a one-year, $5 million deal. Hill also found the option attractive because of the Pacers’ superior success relative to the Lakers, who have missed the playoffs for the past two seasons.
“With this season,” Hill said, “we feel we can make some noise.”
But unlike the past years for Hill, it will not involve Bryant chirping in the background.