After Kobe Bryant had season-ending surgery earlier this year, it was thought that his locker at Staples Center would be vacant until October.
However, thanks to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 round being played at Staples Center this week, Bryant’s locker has a new occupier: Wisconsin Badgers players Nigel Hayes.
And it looks as if Hayes couldn’t be happier.
The Badgers’ official Twitter account tweeted a photo of Hayes ahead of tomorrow’s game against North Carolina, and the college kid definitely looks like he’s pleased to be sitting in the Black Mamba’s chair.
In fact, he looks stunned:
Apparently, Hayes is a big Kobe fan and he plans to sleep in Bryant’s locker tonight so he can “absorb” his powers:
It doesn’t look like it’s a coincidence that Hayes has ended up with Bryant’s locker, though.
According to Dan Needles, Hayes wanted Bryant’s locker “badly,” and Jake Zimmermann says the sophomore “insisted” on claiming number 24’s spot:
However, Hayes wasn’t the only Badger who was relishing the opportunity to be around Bryant’s everyday surroundings.
Bronson Koenig, a point guard for Wisconsin, tweeted his excitement after using the same bathroom as his idol.
After a while, Bryant caught wind of what was happening at his locker and he decided to send out a good luck tweet to the entire Badgers team:
Hayes was probably very excited after Bryant tweeted out his support. The 20-year-old is clearly a fan of the five-time NBA champion, and he isn’t just saying all of this because his team is playing at Staples this week.
Here’s a tweet by Hayes from back in September:
So, hopefully the message from Kobe took Hayes’ mind off this embarrassing moment he had during a press conference earlier in the day:
This Hayes dude is really entertaining. In fact, he might even be the next Swaggy P.