Lakers’ draft picks Jalen Hood-Schifino, Maxwell Lewis channel ‘Mamba Mentality’

Maxwell Lewis, left, and Jalen Hood-Schifino, whom the Lakers selected in the NBA draft, pose for a photo Tuesday.
Maxwell Lewis, left, and Jalen Hood-Schifino, whom the Lakers selected in the NBA draft, were introduced at the team’s training facility in El Segundo on Tuesday.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

It was by all accounts the perfect way for L.A.’s newcomers, Jalen Hood-Schifino and Maxwell Lewis, to ingratiate themselves with Lakers fans when they were introduced to the media Tuesday.

Both spoke in reverence about the beloved Kobe Bryant and what the Lakers legend meant to them growing up as basketball players.

Hood-Schifino is a 6-6 guard from Indiana whom the Lakers chose with the 17th pick in the NBA draft, and he has been inspired by Bryant for as long as he can remember.


“Yeah, like, when I was younger watching him, I watched him from the lens of just seeing how talented he is on the court,” Hood-Schifino said. “Obviously, he’s one of the best players to play the game.

“As I got older and started to understand what he stood for, and what the ‘Mamba Mentality’ was, that’s kind of when I really was like attracted to Kobe, as far as his mindset and what he stood for. Those are habits I tried to instill into myself.”

Lewis is a 6-7 forward from Pepperdine whom the Lakers took with the 40th pick of the draft (Round 2). He also was a big Bryant fan.

Lakers GM Rob Pelinka will focus on improving the team’s roster and keeping the core in place, not expecting wholesale changes as in the past.

June 27, 2023

Lewis said his dad grew up in Inglewood and his entire family rooted for the Lakers. Even when they settled in Las Vegas, Lewis said they remained fans of the Lakers and Bryant.

“Well, first off, my dad put a Laker Fathead in my room of Kobe, so I always saw that,” Lewis said. “I’ve just always been around just Laker [stuff]. He just always took me on the weekends just to go to L.A. and his old stomping grounds and stuff. Just his mentality. Just how much he works. I watch his motivation videos in the morning sometimes. Just little things like that to keep it installed in my head about how hard he worked.”

Lakers rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino addresses the media Tuesday at the team's El Segundo training facility.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

And now, Hood-Schifino and Lewis are teammates with LeBron James. Even that makes for an interesting story for the 20-year-old Hood-Schifino.

He was 7 days old when James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. Hood-Schifino was asked to put that into perspective. He smiled.

“I saw that. I was like, ‘Dang, LeBron’s old.’ It’s crazy to think about,” he said. “Obviously, he’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He’s been in the league going on 21 years now. Just his knowledge of the game and what he can bring to the table for me, as well as Max and the other guys, I think it’s going to be good and really beneficial to us.”


For Lewis, he wasn’t sure who was more excited about the opportunity to play and learn from James — him or his friends.

“Just all of my friends, that’s all they talk about, playing with LeBron,” Lewis said. “It’s surreal — just those big-time veterans who can coach you and make me a better player. Just getting so much feedback and watching what they do. And just learn from them.”

Hood-Schifino and Lewis will play on the Lakers’ summer teams, starting with two games in Sacramento at the California Classic on July 3 and 5 and the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas that begins July 7.

The Lakers, who added youth with size in the NBA draft on Thursday, now turn their attention to keeping the core of their team intact this offseason.

June 25, 2023

They left an impression on Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations and general manager, coach Darvin Ham, Jesse Buss, the team’s assistant general manager and director of scouting ... in fact, the entire organization.

“Coach and I got on the phone with Max and I just think he was so caught up in the emotion, he really didn’t have words,” Pelinka said. “Coach and I were like, ‘Wow. Man. This is a deep moment for him.’ And again. Players that care that much about playing for this franchise is big to us. Sitting upstairs with Jalen and Darvin and Jesse, just hearing him talk about his journey and how when he was a young boy, he identified the Mamba Mentality as one of the pillars in his life and how he wanted to approach the game.

”It’s easy to throw that out in a draft interview, but you can tell with him, it was incredibly genuine. And just the way he carries himself, the way he approaches the game, that was meaningful to us.”


The NBA released the Las Vegas Summer League schedule Friday. The Lakers open play July 7 vs. the Warriors; the Clippers open July 8 vs. the Jazz.

June 23, 2023