If there is one player that could enter the conversation about matching Kobe with his drive and energy he brings to every game, it would have to be Russell Westbrook. So it comes to no surprise that Russ was one of the many players who worked out with Kobe to improve his game.
Great players become great because they never rest on their laurels. When you're an MVP caliber player and still get up every morning thinking about what you can improve at and add to your arsenal of moves, everything is possible. In his book "The Mamba Mentality: How I Play," Kobe recognized that in Westbrook.
“Russell continues to evolve; he is a constant learner. This past year, when he was 29, he came to Orange County, and we would work out for hours at 5 AM. At that age, most guys in the league think they know it all. He wanted to work on his post-game, on footwork in the post. He realised that was the next step in his evolution and the key to his longevity.”
His game was always founded on his athleticism, and he has a clean-up procedure on his knee almost every summer for the past few years. In addition to that, he joined James Harden and had one of the worst shooting percentages from the three-point line in NBA history. Many saw this as the end of Russell Westbrook. Yet, at 31, Westbrook is playing the best basketball of his life. Kobe wouldn't be surprised.
“That's the money right there, that thirst and quest for information and improvement. So we spent quite a bit of time working on that, and I saw him use some of the lessons we worked on in game action as soon as the season started.”
You can use the same logic assessing the young stars with potential in the NBA. Some complain and blame others, think they are good enough, and they just weren't lucky. Others don't talk as much and keep improving their game - offense and defense. That's the Mamba way.