There are not too many players in NBA history that approached practice and mastering the craft as Kobe Bryant did during his basketball career. Phil Jackson even said no one attacked his personal habits like Bryant did when he was trying to become the best player in the world. On top of all that, he also studied the game by watching a lot of film. This way, he learned from the mistakes he made during games.
In his book The Mamba Mentality, Bryant explains how his obsession with gaining any advantage he can get during games led him to study the referee’s handbook. He understood that every referee was in charge of a specific part of the court.
“I made a point of reading the referee’s handbook. One of the rules I gleaned from it was that each referee has a designated slot where he is supposed to be on the floor. If the ball, for instance, is in place W, referees X, Y, and Z each have an area on the court assigned to them.
That helped him figure out that there are certain areas on the floor refs don’t see that good. He claims he got away with a lot of things like traveling and fouls quite frequently when he was in those situations during games.
“When they do that, it creates dead zones, areas on the floor where they can’t see certain things. I learned where those zones were, and I took advantage of them. I would get away with holds, travels, and all sorts of minor violations simply because I took the time to understand the officials’ limitations.”
There are all sorts of stories related to Kobe Bryant’s ultimate competitiveness and approach to the game. This one is just one of them that proves only the truly great ones pay such attention to details in combination with the hard work they put in the gym every day.