The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant didn’t practice Tuesday in Phoenix and may not play in today’s game in New Orleans to preserve his 36-year-old body. Hans Gutknecht ‑ Staff Photographer
It seemed inevitable Kobe Bryant would treat Larry Nance Jr. harshly on the first day of training camp, a rite of passage every rookie experiences with the Lakers’ star as a way to measure his mental toughness.
After the Lakers selected Nance Jr. with the 27th pick out of the 2015 NBA Draft, his adjustment may go beyond seeing if he can establish a niche at the power forward position after excelling through four seasons at the University of Wyoming. In 2012, Nance Jr. made light of Bryant’s sexual assault case in Eagle, Colo. in 2003, charges that have since been dropped.
“Gee, I sure hope Kobe can keep his hands to himself in Denver this time,” Nance Jr. tweeted before adding the hashtag ‘rapist.’
Most Lakers media members were not immediately aware of his tweet, and Nance Jr. was not asked about it. But the tweet then became viral and the Lakers soon caught wind of it. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said he and team spokesman John Black addressed Nance Jr. about his tweet, which has since been deleted.
“I’m not in a position to really share information,” Kupchak said after the NBA Draft on Thursday. “But it is something that they will have to discuss amongst the two of them. It’s my understanding that it’s something that happened a few years ago. And in today’s world, things don’t go away, which doesn’t make it any less offensive.”
The Lakers went through a pretty exhaustive evaluation process during the NBA draft, which included hosting workouts for 83 prospects to consider for their No. 2, 27 and 34th picks. For Nance Jr., that also included Kupchak talking to numerous coaches and assistant coaches he knows about at the University of Wyoming and the college ranks. Accounts painted Nance Jr. in a positive light surrounding his hustle and attitude, but Kupchak said he wasn’t aware of the tweet about Bryant since after the draft.
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