Dodgers Enlisted Kobe Bryant’s Help To Secure Shohei Ohtani
In their pursuit of Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Dodgers enlisted the help of legendary Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant. The late NBA star, who was a huge Dodgers fan, played a crucial role in the team’s recruitment efforts.
The Dodgers signed the two-time AL MVP to a record-setting 10-year deal worth $700 million and while there are many reasons Ohtani decided to sign with the Dodgers, one came in the form of the Kobe pitch video presentation.
The video was filmed before Ohtani signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2017, and the Dodgers kept the secret video hidden until now. Ohtani revealed that the Kobe video was the highlight of his meeting with the Dodgers.
Back in 2017, Bryant had filmed the clip as a favor to the team. Now, more than three years after his death in a helicopter crash, Bryant’s reputation as the ultimate competitor spans all sports, and his message to Ohtani registered the same posthumously in 2023 as it would have then: There’s no better place in the world to win than Los Angeles, and there’s no better team in baseball to win with than the Dodgers.
“That was one of the highlights of the whole meeting,” Ohtani told ESPN through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. “I was really surprised to see it. It was a strong and touching message.”
When Bryant said Ohtani’s name, it took him aback. They never met, but Ohtani marveled at his commitment, to his craft, to his sport, to his team. Mizuhara, who is as much consigliere to Ohtani as the conduit for his words, grew up in Los Angeles and understood what it meant for Bryant to vouch for the Dodgers. A minute of his time, of the presence he still casts, felt like a wonderful eternity.