ESPN’s Michael Wilbon Doesn’t Follow the Washington Wizards Anymore

ESPN personality Michael Wilbon, newly

released into orbit

by cutting his longtime ties with the Washington Post, writes today about a

very special distinction

bestowed by Kobe Bryant on a singular young basketball player:

CHICAGO – It’s not very often young players earn the praise of Kobe Bryant, which is why many in the pro basketball community seemed to notice last month when Bryant sought out Derrick Rose for a hug and some kinds words after the Bulls’$2 98-91 loss in Los Angeles.

“I can tell when a player truly wants to be better and does what it takes to improve,” Bryant said Thursday, one night before the rematch in Chicago. “It was a quality I had when I was growing up. … I admire that about him. I could really see it from last year to this year.”

Yes, it was a telling moment when Kobe decided to honor Derrick Rose with a hug. Here’s

another telling moment

, from the Los Angeles Times coverage of this week’s game between Bryant’s Lakers and the Washington Wizards:

Now here was Bryant, one of the games’ all-time greats, wanting to share some words with [John] Wall on the court before he went to his locker room.

“I think he has a lot of talent and lot of potential,” Bryant said. “I’m very hopeful when I see guys like that that can carry the league for years to come. I just want guys like that to just continue to work and stay focused.”

Wall looked stunned to see Bryant call him over, hug him and to whisper in his ear.

There are basketball players in Washington, D.C.? Who knew?