Former NBA player and current assistant coach on the Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Handy made a guest appearance on All The Smoke podcast featuring Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. One of the things he touched upon in the interview was the dedication and passion the late great Kobe Bryant had for the game of basketball and perfecting his craft. He was obsessed with becoming the greatest basketball player he could be, dedicating countless hours while expecting the same from his teammates.
Bryant had no problem calling out his teammates when he thought they were not putting in enough effort, and for him, it didn’t matter if that teammate was the last player on the roster or someone like Shaquille O’Neal. For Bryant, his ultimate goal was winning championships, and he didn’t want anybody to stop him from achieving that goal, especially his teammates.
Handy remembers he had an honest conversation with Bryant on why he was so hard on his teammates, and Bryant’s answer showcases there was no room for slacking when being his teammate. He hated people that didn’t work on their craft because, for him, that meant they would not be ready when the game or a championship is on the line.
Phil man, some of my teammates don’t understand the work. I see dudes walk into practice 10 minutes before practice, and they leave right after….why the fuck am I going to pass them the basketball. I don’t respect their work ethic. I am in here, busting my ass every day trying to perfect my craft, and these dudes don’t want to work on their game. I don’t trust them, so I’m not going to pass them the basketball. I will ride them every day, and it made perfect sense.Phil Handy, via All The Smoke
Bryant was obsessed with winning and a true perfectionist in everything he was doing related to basketball, and he wanted his teammates to be on the same level. He had no mercy for players that didn’t follow those guidelines because he knew better than anyone practice makes perfect, and you have to be perfect if you want to win an NBA title in crucial moments. Bryant was consistent in doing things his way for over two decades which was the sheer proof his system worked because he became one of the most decorated players in NBA history.
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