After winning five titles as a member of the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers of the 80s, Michael Cooper remained with the organization as part of the coaching staff. One of his early tasks involved taking a closer look at the upcoming prospects that then-general manager Jerry West was eyeing.
Ahead of the 1996 NBA Draft, West invited a 17-year-old Kobe Bryant for a workout. He later called that session "the greatest workout" he's seen. Cooper has shared his side of the story before. But this time around, he went into detail on the young Black Mamba's mastery on the low block.
A young master in the post
One of the goals of that session was to see the 17-year-old's offensive tool kit. Cooper recalled that he was tasked to defend Kobe in the low block. Though Cooper was almost 40-years-old during that time, let's remember that he was crowned Defensive Player of the Year in 1987 and had been selected into the All-Defensive Teams multiple times.
West probably would've understood if a 17-year-old kid from Philly couldn't hold his ground against an NBA veteran. But things did not pan out that way. "One thing that amazed me was when we got into the low post. They throw him the ball into the low post. My job was to make him go certain ways. One thing Kobe could do, he always went the way he wanted to. For me, that was impressive. He didn't hit every shot, but he got the shot. He got to his spot."
"After that workout, I was drenched in sweat. I was like 'Jerry I'm taking off the next week'"
Michael Cooper, ">FUBO Sports
He's the one
After Kobe gave Cooper a beating, West just said, "he's the one." Cooper probably knew this. If West, by some chance, failed to see Kobe's potential, then Cooper would've run to him and told him that he defended the kid to the best of his abilities but the young man was just too good.
It's one of those amazing Kobe stories that fans will never get tired of hearing over and over again. It's also quite remarkable that Kobe already had the low-post in his arsenal even before he set foot in the NBA. As we all know, Bryant utilized this as one of his weapons during his playing career.
Nowadays, players score either through 3-pointers, lay-ups, or dunks. Opposing teams had to adjust their defenses to stop these types of baskets. But back when Kobe was in his prime, defenses had to prepare for literally everything.