Wes Matthews didn't always play a full-fledged part in Wesley's life, but the relationship is stronger now than previously.
"His ties aren't with the Lakers," said Wesley, a self-professed Lakers and Bulls fan as a kid. "His ties are with me, and that's just family."
Matthews' older-than-his-years ways also largely stem from an upbringing overseen by single-mom Pam Moore, a two-sport University of Wisconsin product, every step of the way.
To wit: The tattoo on Wesley's left bicep reads "Dynamic Duo," accompanied by two sets of initials, his and hers. Mostly, though, Matthews has overcome the odds with a will — and a way — not all NBA rookies have. Ask Miles about guarding Bryant in the playoffs with less than a year of pro experience, and he shakes his head. "I definitely wanted to — but I definitely wasn't ready to do it at the time," he said.
Understandably, as Miles — a second-round pick who is defending Bryant in this series when Matthews is not — jumped to the NBA straight from high school.
Matthews played four years at Marquette, and it shows.
"He's not afraid of anything that comes with the game. And when you think about it, why should he be?" said Miles, also 23. "It's the same game he's been playing since he was a little kid.
"I mean, you say that; it's easier said than done. But he's been in late-game situations, guarding different guys, everything, and he's had some success doing it — because he's as tough as they come."
Heck, even Matthews' humor has a bite.
"He's definitely sarcastic," Miles said. "But as funny as they come."
Ask Matthews if there's anything he's marveled over this season, any situation that's left him slack-jawed — any chink, essentially, in his armor — he hesitatingly admits to one.
It was earlier this season, and the Jazz were playing the Lakers.
Scoot over, Kobe. This is no dream. "We were in L.A., and I saw (actress) Jessica Alba courtside," Matthews said. "That was a 'Wow.'"
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