Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson have everything and nothing in common.
Johnson, the Lakers’ superstar of the past, is known for his effervescent smile and charisma.
Bryant, the Lakers’ current superstar, is known for his unwavering, intense focus -- a trait that can manifest itself in surliness.
Despite their differences, they clearly have a mutual respect. At a recent event, Bryant and Johnson exchanged a few pleasantries and a hug when they ran into each other on the red carpet.
Said Johnson: “Life is great.”
Responded Bryant: “Eh, you know, it’s moving.”
Responses that typify their outlooks? Maybe not.
Bryant has been unusually approachable this season. He openly discussed potentially retiring when his contract expires after the 2013-14 season, fielding dozens of questions through a smile. He even did something that most NBA superstars go to great measures to avoid -- he talked to reporters pregame for an extended period of time before a recent exhibition game.
Bryant seems to be wanting to change his reputation before his playing days end.
He has recently been devoting himself to fighting homelessness. He also began embracing fan interaction by posting his musings and personal photos on Facebook, a prospect that he acknowledged initially terrified him.
Johnson is the ultimate golden child of Los Angeles. But if Bryant continues to embrace the public and avoids trash talking good ol’ Smush his newfound image, coupled with his five shiny rings, could easily positively influence his legacy, perhaps even making him as likable as his predecessor.