In his 20 years in the NBA, Kobe Bryant teamed up with some of the most notable superstars namely Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Karl Malone, Gary Paton and the plethora of role players that came and went. While The Black Mamba may have won 5 championships with the help of those superstars mostly O’Neal and Gasol, his long-time trainer Gary Vitti recently admitted that not everyone wanted to team up with Kobe. Apparently, some players feared his intensity and were pressured because Bryant expected them to have the same killer instinct as him.
Kobe demanded everyone to have his mindset
What Bryant will always be remembered for — besides his winning career and 5 championships — was how he attacked every game. He had the same “win at all cost” mindset as Michael Jordan and it was obvious based on their demeanor and actions on the court. For people like Vitti, who was obviously always on Bryant’s team, that killer mindset of Bryant was the reason why he knew he was going to win on most nights. But apparently, it was also the reason why many players didn’t want to play with Bryant.
“ … If I was in a foxhole and I looked to my left and I saw him [Kobe] and I looked to my right and I saw you [Byron Scott], I knew I was going to be okay. Now if you guys look to your right, I don’t know how you felt about me but I knew that I was good. He [Kobe] knew he was that guy and that’s what he expected from everybody and as a result, most players didn’t want to play with him,” Vitti said in his latest appearance on “The Byron Scott podcast”.
Not everyone is cut out like Kobe
Bryant’s mentality and killer instinct benefited him as much as it cost him. It cost him in a sense that it drove his teammates away (remember his feud with O’Neal? And Howard?) as well as, according to Vitti, hindered some players from teaming up with him. But that same mindset is also the reason why he’s an all-time great and basketball legend. It just proves that not everyone is cut out from the same cloth as Bryant and Jordan who both had the same method when it came to winning games and championships.
Ultimately, Kobe was also lucky to be paired up with teammates who understood how his mindset worked and eventually also followed his lead. At the end of the day, Bryant has 5 championships and maybe those who turned him down wished they had more — if only they were brave enough to have the desire to play with him.