The Los Angeles Lakers are working hard to help their young players improve. To do so, the team is focusing on motivation. In their “Los Angeles Lakers Genius Series,” the Lakers have brought in an array of renowned speakers from various fields, according to ESPN’s Ohn Youngmisuk: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Hollywood heavyweight Jeffrey Katzenberg, Olympic and world champion sprinter Allyson Felix and, last but not least, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who has been particularly impactful on young Lakers Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma:
Not only did some of the world’s brightest help inspire young Lakers such as Brandon Ingram, but the Lakers’ brass credits the series with helping transform Kuzma’s body and Ball’s diet, and even aiding the front office with further identifying the type of winning player the Lakers look to add as they try to return to NBA prominence.
“Listen, this series has meant a lot to our Lakers,” [Lakers President Magic] Johnson told ESPN. “To have them in front of our guys, explaining how they became successful, has meant a lot, and it changed their lives. … I have been enjoying this just as much as the players. There’s greatness in what they all do and how they do it. But everything came down to the same thing: preparation … discipline.
“The Rock came in and was so passionate,” Magic Johnson continued, as his eyes and voice grew more animated. “He really fired them up and got them going and [feeling] like, ‘Hey, I need to stay in this gym and do the things I need to do.’ [Dwayne Johnson] gave them the discipline. Making sure [to watch] what you put in your body. That was a big thing, too. Everybody changed their diets now — Lonzo changed [his diet].”
Kuzma has taken full advantage of the Genius Series, forming a tag team connection with Johnson that already is providing visible results. Growing up in Flint, Michigan, as a fan of the WWE and The Rock, Kuzma has developed a relationship with Johnson since his visit to the Lakers’ facility.
Hitting the weight room this offseason, Kuzma has noticeably added muscle. He recently posted a photo of himself in a sleeveless T-shirt on Instagram saying, “Yo @therock appreciate the tips on summer gainz” with a flexed-biceps emoji.
Bringing in unique motivational speakers at the top of their respective fields is an interesting – and seemingly effective – move. It seems like the sort of idea that Kobe Bryant might have had a hand in, and indeed, general manager Rob Pelinka says that the idea was in part inspired by Bryant:
After spending two decades around Kobe Bryant as his agent and friend, Pelinka saw how obsessed the Lakers legend was with improving and constantly searching for new ways to find any advantage he could get over his opponent. It was Bryant’s curiosity that in part inspired Pelinka to create the Genius Series.
“I remember one time [Bryant] called me and was like, ‘Have you ever seen the way a cheetah attacks its prey? Like when it is hunting down a wildebeest?'” Pelinka said. “He said, ‘I have really been thinking of ways to creatively change some of my movements and noticed that there was this incredible beauty in how a cheetah uses its tail to balance itself when it jumps in the air.’ And he said, ‘I have been moving my foot in different ways, almost like the tail of a cheetah, to learn how to have proper balance when I am shooting my fadeaway jumper.'”