Kobe Bryant won’t go down as one of the greatest players in NBA history by accident. Droves of NBA players label Kobe the hardest worker they’ve ever seen, reaffirming the rumors that he would show up at least an hour and a half early to practice to work out, then play practice like a Game 7, and then weight train after practice.
Bryant’s insatiable work ethic made him revered by his teammates, and Kobe often used the admiration of his colleagues to instill fear in them. There are multiple stories about him making grown men cry–like in the 2000 season when he told Stanislov Medvedenko to ‘reconsider what his life purpose is’ because, as Kobe put in, he was ‘so bad.’
Luke Walton, Lakers first year Head Coach, played nine seasons with Kobe and recalls a highly entertaining story of Kobe owning him in Luke’s rookie year.
Via The Open Run Podcast:
“I remember one time my rookie year, I came in a little, uh him (Kobe Bryant) and Shaq like to do this as, I think it was just rookies, but any young guy, I probably had too much to drink the night before, so I came in, I was a rookie, I felt good, and they could smell some alcohol on me. And Kobe informed the rest of the team that no one was allowed to help me on defense, and that I had to guard him the entire practice.
“I was laughing at first like, ‘Oh, this is funny,’ but in Kobe’s mind, in his eyes, it was like, ‘No, I see and smell weakness, I’m going to destroy you today.’ He taught me that lesson. He probably scored 70-something in practice that day, and I was begging for help, none of the teammates would help. But yeah, his killer instinct and his work ethic, they’ll stick with me forever.”
Poor Luke also claims that Shaq abused him both mentally and physically one day for coming in a bit…sluggish.
“Shaq did it to me too one day. Yeah, Shaq made me guard him, and then I just started trying to foul him, and he told me that if I kept fouling him, he was gonna punch me, so then I stopped fouling him. It wasn’t fair. I felt like I was a child trying to play a grown man’s game.”
Savages. Both of ’em.
[h/t For The Win]