Lakers training camp invitee Trey Johnson has now been a teammate of Kobe Bryant’s for 23 days, taking special care to soak up lessons throughout the three plus weeks of preseason.
And while he’s watched Bryant for years from afar, seeing No. 24 drop 19 points in Sunday’s third quarter was a wholly different experience.
“Just as good as he looked on TV, he’s better in person,” said Johnson. “I already knew he was the best player in the game, but to watch him do it in person and to see the work he’s put in is just amazing. It all makes sense.”
Johnson, who like fellow camp invitee Andrew Naymick is well aware that the Lakers aren’t likely to keep more than the 14 players signed at least through the 2010-11 season, has been taking as many notes as possible since camp opened.
“I’ve been talking to Kobe, Ron and Derek Fisher all the time,” he explained. “I see that they pay very close attention to small details, the things that seem minute, but in the sense of the game are very big. I’d come into the gym before training camp and I’d see Kobe working on defensive drills … I’ve never seen that before.”
Johnson said that Artest has been particularly helpful with defensive pointers, while Fisher’s general professionalism is something that every young player should use as a guiding light.
In five preseason games, Johnson has earned 33 total minutes from Phil Jackson, producing 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, five rebounds, five assists and a steal with three turnovers.
In his dream scenario, he’d be on the final roster when the regular season starts, but Johnson’s not taking anything for granted.
“To be in this situation is a blessing anyway,” he concluded. “The world champions basically invited you into their family. As long as I’m here I’m just going to try and learn, and whatever happens, happens.
“Hopefully I leave a good impression if I have to leave, and otherwise I’ll pray to be here.”