Kobe Bryant always tried to find an edge, something his opponent wouldn't expect. Whether through his physical and mental conditioning, game planning, or scouting, the Black Mamba always ensured he caught the opposition off guard. One time, Bryant even went as far as learning a new language just to mess with San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker's head.
A french tutorial session
When Bryant was gearing up for a game against Parker and the Spurs, he requested a favor from his teammate Ronny Turiaf to teach him how to speak french. Turiaf agreed, and lo and behold, the 5-time champion learned a new language in a span of one season.
"I played with Ronny Turiaf, and I know Tonny and Ronny went to school together. So, I would ask Ronny, 'Hey Ronny, you got to teach me some things in French. You got to give me something so I can just kind of mess with Tony.' If I could say something in French, throw him off a little bit, maybe he'll be surprised. Parker asked me, "Where did you learn that, man?'" Bryant said in Tony Parker's documentary entitled "The Final Shot."
When Bryant was asked what words he requested Turiaf to teach him and what he told Parker on the court, the Los Angeles Lakers legend didn't want to disclose. Kobe left the audience to guess what he said to Parker.
"No, no, no. Absolutely not. You can imagine," Bryant said.
When Parker was asked if Bryant's antics worked, he said it didn't throw him off his game despite the latter's best efforts to distract him. In fact, the 4-time champion did his best not to react to Kobe's french but knew deep inside he couldn't stop laughing about it.
"I would look at him and give him no reaction. But in my head, I found it hilarious that he had taken the time to learn our language to try and knock me off my game. That was quite something," Parker said in the same documentary.
Bryant and Parker shared a lot of battles together on the court, most notably from 2001-2004 and 2008. The year Bryant learned how to speak french was in the 2008 Western Conference Finals, when the purple and gold defeated the Spurs (4-1) to advance to the NBA Finals. Bryant's french may not have worked against Parker, but his dominant performance on the court sure did.