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"Kobe just kept walking" — Mark Madsen on the time Kobe Bryant broke Phil Jackson's rule and showed up late for the bus

Phil Jackson raged at the bus driver to leave Kobe Bryant behind.
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant

The vaunted triangle offense isn’t the only reason behind Phil Jackson’s success. The Zen Master enforced strict rules that all of his players — even the superstars — had to abide by. Former Los Angeles Lakers big man Mark Madsen recalled when Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant failed to observe Jackson’s rules.

Phil Jackson’s rules

Madsen related that Jackson was a stickler for being on time. So much so that when someone arrived late, the Zen Master slapped him with a $100 fine. Madsen recalled that he and Derek Fisher once arrived after the national anthem and got sanctioned. As one of the leaders of the Purple and Gold, Kobe abided by Jackson’s rule — except on one occasion.

The Zen Master wanted everyone to be on the bus at exactly 10 am for a shootaround. Everyone was inside the bus except for Kobe, who they could see walking through the hotel lobby as calm as a cucumber.

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The minute it clicked 10, Phil starts yelling at the bus driver: ‘Go! Get out of here! Leave him! Leave him!’ Yeah, because Phil held everybody accountable. Whether it was me, Kobe or Shaq, Phil would leave you,” Madsen said, per KarterKast.

Unstoppable force v.s immovable object

The unknowing bus driver was now caught in between Jackson and Bryant. Madsen observed how nervous the driver was. It was clear to him that he did not know what to do. To push the pedal to the metal or wait for Kobe?

The bus starts leaving — slowly,” Madsen continued. “You think Kobe sprinted to the bus? No, he didn’t sprint. Every other human being would start sprinting to the bus and start banging on the door. Kobe just kept walking. Same pace. The bus driver got cold feet. He stopped 20 yards later. Phil [was] yelling at the bus driver, the bus driver stopped for Kobe. Kobe walks in. Phil starts yelling at Kobe. Kobe just walked on, calm as could be.

It’s a hilarious story. Was Kobe just in one of those zones where he could hear and feel nothing? Or was he just really unaware of the time? Jackson once said that since he came to the Lakers when Kobe was a lot younger, he treated him more like a son.

So Madsen’s story reveals a different dynamic of Kobe and Phil’s relationship. Perhaps Kobe saw the Zen Master as his equal, and that’s why he didn’t flinch. Whatever the case may be, it’s a great story to add to Kobe’s lore.

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