Now they’re starting Year 1 with the player known as “Hillbilly Kobe.”
“My first year at Oklahoma we had a [graduate assistant], he came up to me one day and was like, ‘I figured it out,” Reaves said in his Southern drawl.
“And I was like, ‘Uh, what are you even talking about?’
“And he was like, ‘HBK.’
“And I was like, ‘What?’
“And he was like, ‘Hillbilly Kobe.’
“And I was like [shaking head], ‘Aw, whatever,’ and then one of the teammates heard it and it just stuck.
“So for three years that’s what they said around, I mean, just like Oklahoma and I guess people caught wind of it elsewhere.
“But, I mean, it is what it is, you know, I just move forward from it.”
Reaves later was asked if he’s more hillbilly or more Kobe.
“Man, I don’t even know,” said Reaves, who added that he grew up on a farm in Arkansas. “We’ll go 50-50.”
Reaves signed a two-year contract with the Lakers earlier this week, beating out a host of veterans for the roster spot. The first year is partially guaranteed with a team option for the second, The Times’ Dan Woike reported Sunday.
Reaves averaged 18.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists as a senior with the Sooners. The Lakers signed him to play with their team in the Las Vegas Summer League and gave him a two-way contract before signing him to the two-year deal.
Told of his new teammate’s nickname during his own session with reporters, Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker responded, “Seriously?” and then laughed for several seconds.