Los Angeles Lakers guard Quinn Cook was one of the players in the NBA who was hit the hardest when legend Kobe Bryant suddenly passed away.
Cook, 26, has said that his late father Ted Cook was the biggest fan of the Lakers he had ever met. The former NCAA and NBA champion also said that he was personally “obsessed” with the team when he was growing up. He was visibly shaken at a memorial for Bryant outside Staples Center.
The guard is also one of several in the league to change his number to honor the five-time NBA champion.
HoopsHype had a chance to catch up with Cook just a few days before the news about Bryant’s passing struck the basketball world.
However, the NBA guard reflected on lessons he learned from Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wootten, known as The Godfather of Basketball, who passed away on January 21, 2020.
You and Danny Green are the only two active NBA players who have won both NBA and NCAA championships. So I’m curious how this locker room has been comparable to the other champions who you’ve played around since you’ve been around so many now.
Quinn Cook: Each team is different. But I think special teams have little things like attention to detail. How together we are on and off the floor is a factor. Obviously, we’re all talented. But how you come together or how you make sacrifices toward a common goal is what separates this team and any championship team I’ve been on – high school, USA, college and obviously the NBA. Just those characteristics stick out.
What are some of the things that you bring to that mentality personally?
QC: Just me. I’ve been winning all my life so I know what it takes. I know how to be a leader, how to be the best teammate I can be. [Laughs] Plus I can play a little bit so that helps, too.
What are some of the things that you’ve picked up being around this team in particular and how have you improved your game?
QC: Everything. Being around these future Hall-of-Famers, being around these guys every single day. I pick their brains all day. I see how they prepare and I see what things I can do that they do to add to my regiment and I’m just always inspired. I try to ask as many questions as possible and just being a sponge. So it’s been great so far.
Now down the stretch, what kind of role could you see yourself playing in Frank Vogel’s offense?
QC: Being a great teammate, man. Really just staying ready. I can shoot, try to make plays…I play a little defense. I try to be the best teammate.
You went to DeMatha High School for three years. They recently lost their longtime coach Morgan Wootten. What was your relationship like with him?
QC: We had a great relationship. That’s the first basketball camp ever I went to. I went to that camp all the way through high school and he recruited me to go to his son’s high school, so we were extremely close. Once I did go to DeMatha, Coach always looked out for me and always gave me advice. Even though he wasn’t there as the coach, he was a legend – not just there but in the whole basketball world. I was just sad to hear about it. I’m extremely close with his son Joe as well as Joe’s wife. I’m praying for them, both of them. We lost a special human being.
What were some of the things that he helped you most with your game? What was his lasting impression on you?
QC: I first learned how to work out going to his camp. Obviously, growing up, my vision of working out was going outside playing on-on-one or two-on-two or three-on-three. But we’d go to his camp and he would give us, the whole camp, packets of workouts to do. And we’d get a grade at the camp. Some kids probably didn’t use the workout, but I did and I’d try to come back. That was my test every summer. I’d go to camp, take what I learned, use that packet all season and I’d come back the next year and see where I got better. So he taught me a lot. I went to his camp for like seven years. There was too much to learn.
In college, you played at Duke. How closely are you following them this season and college in general?
QC: I’m following close. They’re together. They took a lump early and have since won a lot of games, tough games. They lost two more but just won a big one against Miami. But they’re together. They play hard and Duke will always give everyone their best shot. They’ll be ready by March.
Are you still pretty close with your teammates at Duke? You had so many NBA guys. How special was that team?
QC: For sure, for sure. So special. That’s the best feeling. That’s all our goals: going to college and get to the NBA. We made it work. Guys came off the bench when they would start anywhere else. I sacrificed a lot just to win a championship. Win, lose or draw – especially that year – it didn’t matter. We could have lost in the first round but we knew we gave it our all every single day. It was a dream crew on and off the floor. It was genuine, it was genuine. We won the national championship and fast forward and eight of us played in the league. Eight of us played in the NBA. Even now, you’ve got seven in the NBA on seven different teams with me as well as Jahlil Okafor, Semi Ojeleye, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones, Grayson Allen and Amile Jefferson.