Brian Shaw, who was a well-known shooter in the ’90s, rejoined his former teammate Shaquille O’Neal with the Lakers in 1999. The Lakers were making a run for the first championship in their era, and Shaw’s experience and veteran leadership helped the team big time. He was brought in as a substitution for a young Kobe Bryant who was the up and coming star in the league.
Shaw often worked out in practices with Bryant and remembered a very peculiar shooting workout he did with Bryant. There are numerous stories of Bryant’s unconventional practice regimes, and this one with Shaw is just another proof of how systematic and, in some way, excentric his approach was to the game of basketball.
At practice, when they played one-on-one, Bryant requested that Shaw slaps his arms and elbows as hard as he can when he’s shooting the ball. According to Shaw, the whole purpose of this workout was to get used to any hard foul but also make the shot under those circumstances. Even though Kobe was an outside player, he often played close or underneath the basket where there are big chances you will get fouled or blocked.
“So I played defense on him, and he would throw the ball to himself, and he’d make a post move, and he told me to slap his arms and elbows and pull his arms down as hard as I could. He would make a move, and I would pull his arm down, and he would say: “No! Do it as hard as you can … harder than that!” So I was literally smacking his arms and his elbows as hard as I could when he was trying to shoot, and we did that for a good 20 minutes. At first, he was struggling to get the ball up, but then it got to a point with his strength he was able to work through all the stuff that I was doing and score. He was consistently making every shot.”
Bryant often said that he views Shaw as his older brother. Shaw stayed with the Lakers for four seasons, where he served in the role of a mentor for Kobe when they won three in a row. They worked out together quite a bit during those years, and who knows in how many other unusual workouts Shaw had to participate in with Kobe Bryant.