Quinn Cook Says LeBron James Gives Him 'So Much' Confidence
Quinn Cook has been talking to LeBron James everyday, getting words of encouragement.
They struck up a friendship when Cook was in training camp with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015 and have maintained a close bond over the years. James even reportedly reached out to Lakers' general manager Rob Pelinka this offseason so they could be teammates.
On Wednesday, after Cook scored a season-high 22 points on nine-for-14-shooting in the Lakers' 119-118 loss to Orlando, he credited James with giving him "so much" confidence this season.
"He's been my mentor since I was 18 years old," Cook said. "He was my vet when I was his rookie in Cleveland and he's always been a big brother to me. He was instrumental in me coming here and we've been inseparable since I've been here, just on and off the floor. He's just the best teammate you could ask for and it's just an honor to play with somebody like that."
With the Lakers trailing Orlando by eight points near the end of the third quarter, Cook singlehandedly went on a 7-0 run over a 1-minute-and-10-second-stretch to cut the team's hole to one point, 89-88, with 26.8 seconds left.
He went on to score 16 of his 22 points in the second half, including a 25-foot three-pointer with 0.2 seconds remaining in the game.
"I felt good but we lost, so I'd rather have zero [points] and win," Cook said. "So we've got to get better."
Cook saw his minutes increase from 12.8 a game to 25 on Wednesday because Rajon Rondo is out with a non-displaced fracture of his right ring finger and it took James 19 shots to score 19 points.
The 26-year-old, who averages five points and 1.4 assists a game, has been waiting patiently for this opportunity for a while.
"You never know in this league," Cook said. "That's the sacrifice that you have to make when you play on great teams like this. Obviously, when I was with the Warriors, staying behind Steph [Curry] and Shaun [Livingston] and fighting for a rotation spot, I ultimately got that. Same thing here. I'm sitting behind 'Bron, I'm sitting behind Rondo, two Hall-of-Famers. I'm just learning every day. I'm just consumed with winning. I just try to get better, try to help as much as possible, be the best teammate I can be."
Cook has impressed James, who had a career-high tying 19 assists in the Lakers' first loss since Christmas, snapping their nine-game win-streak.
"I've seen Quinn grind and grind and grind, get an opportunity in Golden State, make the most of it, continue to work," James said. "Now he's here and he's making the most of it. He's a true professional. He has the ability to put up bunches of points when an opportunity presents itself. But more importantly, he just always stays ready. Great teammate no matter what the circumstance is, whether he's playing or not. It's great being on the same team."
JaVale McGee, who played alongside Cook in Golden State in 2017-2018 when the team won their third title in four seasons, said that Cook's championship experience is often overlooked.
"I don't think people really realize that he was a key component in the culture of winning those championships," McGee said.
When Curry was sidelined because of a right ankle injury followed by a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee in March of 2018, Cook, who was on a two-way contract, had 14-straight double-digit scoring performances, including five in which he scored 20 or more points. During that stretch, he averaged 17.5 points on 53 percent shooting from the field and 50.7 percent shooting from beyond the three-point line. The Warriors rewarded him with a two-year deal and trusted him to play crucial minutes in the playoffs.
In his first season with the Lakers, Cook is trying to prove himself all over again.
On Wednesday, he made four of his seven three-point attempts and artfully dribbled his way through defenders for pull-up jumpers, keeping the Lakers in the game against Orlando,
"Just staying ready, being a professional, just being consumed with winning, staying in the gym," Cook said.
As he continues to show what he can do, Cook can count on one thing.
James is in his corner.
"He gives me confidence every single day, he believes in me and that's all you can ask for from your leader," Cook said. "It means a lot."