You could sum up Kobe the basketball player with “spectacular talent, unparalleled work ethic, very demanding and hard to be around.” Kobe was an alpha, type A personality, and he held his teammates to a very high standard. Phil Jackson said the most critical battle he had with Kobe was to make him realize his drive and work ethic was his talent. Jackson talked to Kobe a lot about how to accept that his teammate’s maximum is his half speed.
In the later stage of his career, the 24 Kobe, that message started to sink in. Don’t get me wrong, Kobe still expected full dedication from his teammates, but understood that their total commitment wouldn’t match up to his. But, if he saw that you were giving your all, then you were his guy. As is with most people like that, it was hard to achieve, but once you earn that trust and respect, it is forever.
Adam Morrison can back me up on this. You are probably wondering, “Who??” and only the most passionate Laker fans will know. Morrison was the third pick of the 2006 Draft, selected by the Charlotte Bobcats. In his second year in the NBA, he had a torn ACL. The next year he was traded to the Lakers. That was in 2009. Having spent his last two years of his rookie-scale deal with the Lakers, Adam Morisson is a two-time NBA champion.
When the victorious Lakers came on the Jimmy Kimmel show in 2010, Kimmel had Morrison’s Finals highlights ready. They showed him in all sorts of street clothes, cheering his teammates from the bench. Kobe appreciated the comedy but stood up for his guy.
That’s the Kobe all players are broken about. Tough, demanding, but a true teammate. Number 8 might have been a bit immature and raw, but 24 was a class act. That’s his ultimate legacy. It’s OK to fail, but it’s not OK to evolve. Kobe Bryant evolved.