Skip to main content

How Tim Groover saved Kobe Bryant's knees “This guy’s pain tolerance was off the charts.”

Kobe-Bryant-Tim-Grover

Michael Jordan’s phone rings – it’s Kobe. As we learned at the memorial, this wasn’t unusual. Any time of night or day, if Kobe had a question, he would call Mike. This time it was serious. Kobe told MJ – “My knees are killing me.” Jordan knew who to recommend; Tim Grover was “his guy.”

It was 2008. Kobe was 30 years old and still had a lot to achieve in the NBA. If you asked Kobe when he would retire, his answer was “after no.7.” He didn’t contemplate his career in terms of years; Bryant counted rings and wanted to get one more than Mike. For someone who never had a severe knee injury, so much knee pain was very problematic.

Grover and Kobe decided to work together, and the first step was to have everyone on the same page. The team trainer, massage therapist, doctor - every person had their point of view and goals (with the ultimate to get most of the credit). That approach had to stop, and there could be only one captain. 

“When I came in, I told Kobe. If I’m gonna do this, I have to be the person in charge.” 

Tim Grover, GQ Sports

Kobe agreed. That didn’t mean Grover wanted anyone to get fired, Bryant could continue working with everybody but had to follow his plan and philosophy. With those terms agreed, it was time to diagnose the problem. That’s the least surprising part of this story. Kobe was doing too much. At 30 years old, Bryant already had 13 years of NBA under his belt. Grover’s main goal was to make Kobe understand that he is in a different stage of his career. 

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

“It’s hard to understand that sometimes you have to do less to get more.”

Tim Grover, GQ Sports

Athleticism implies two things – acceleration and deceleration. Kobe was overworking his acceleration ability (concentric contractions), which shortens the muscles, and neglected his deceleration ability (eccentric contractions), which lengthen the muscles. Because of that, every time he would land, change direction, etc., the muscles couldn’t take the load, so the cartilage and bones did. Thirteen years of that left its toll.

“We totally took the concentric phase out of his training.”

Tim Grover, GQ Sports

Such a training regiment required a lot of creativity. To boil it down, Grover (and a few others when needed) would lift the weight, and Kobe would only do the negative part of the motion. With time, that would elongate the muscles and relieve the pressure on Kobe’s knees. The process of lengthening your muscles is a lot more painful, and that's where Mamba came in. 

“One thing you know about Kobe; this guy’s pain tolerance was off the charts.”

Tim Grover, GQ Sports

In the next two years, Kobe led the Lakers all the way and won two NBA Finals MVP awards. Grover always points out that someone’s physical training and recovery, the same as the game of basketball, is a team sport. Still, it can’t be denied Kobe played some of his best basketball after he started to work with “MJ’s guy.” 

Willy Hernangomez says Zion Williamson is on a mission this season

Willy Hernangomez offers a frightening take on Zion Williamson ahead of this season -“He wants to destroy everybody”

Hernangomez said Williamson "wants to destroy everybody" in his return to the court after missing the entire 2021-22 season

James Harden said that his explosiveness is getting there after it was noticeably absent during his stint with the Sixers last season

James Harden and his quest to regain his explosiveness for the Philadelphia 76ers: "It's getting there"

Harden clearly wasn't himself during his first few months with the 76ers, but the good news is that he believes his explosiveness is getting back to what it used to be

Dirk Nowitzki at the 1998 Nike Hoop Summit

"Between practices I had to get tutoring in a separate room" - Dirk Nowitzki used to bring a tutor with him while traveling with Germany's junior national team

Dirk Nowitzki revealed that he had to bring a private tutor with him during his days with Germany's junior national team as he had to play and study at the same time.

Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson

"Are you willing to come back and be a coachable player?"-How Phil Jackson talked to Kobe Bryant before they reunited in 2006

The time Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson spent apart from each other made them realize that they needed each other to accomplish their goals.

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky outearns several NBA players

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky is closer to making a million each year than some NBA players on minimum contracts.

ben-wallace-darvin-ham-min

“I know he’s a great locker room guy!”- Ben Wallace believes Darvin Ham will do great things with the Lakers

Darvin Ham and Ben Wallace won a title together and their bond will forever remain tight.

Reggie Miller doing the choke sign

Reggie Miller on talking to New York Knicks fans: 'They love to come up and do the choke sign. They think it’s so cool'

Reggie Miller said most Knicks fans still hate him and they let him know about it by doing doing his iconic choke taunt in 1995.