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Phil Jackson on Kobe Bryant: "I’ve never seen another player attack his personal habits the way he did."


In a recent interview with Kit Rachlis, Phil Jackson and Steve Kerr talked about different topics such as their personal lives, favorite players, but also some interesting observations about them and their habits.

We’ve heard on many different occasions about the work ethic Kobe Bryant has. That was something that differentiated him from other players, and despite his enormous talent, he wouldn’t have been as successful if he didn’t work that hard.

Phil Jackson also gave an exciting insight into Kobe Bryant’s mentality, which was something different than any player in the league except Michael Jordan, who was in the later stage of his career.

“I had a player that’s like that in Kobe Bryant. He was a guy who was competitive, a shark who was seeking blood in the water. His arrogance coming into the game was almost rude. I remember watching him in his first All-Star Game, and I thought he was disrespectful in how he approached the game. But he was always challenging, always trying to go after the biggest fish in the water.”

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Jackson recalled a moment after a game they had in Portland, which in his opinion, changed the course of Kobe’s career in a way that, from there onwards, his personal growth was eminent to Phil and his coaching staff.

“You know there’s that joyful hero excellence that goes along with being a star, and then there’s also that humbling experience that happens to many of our players when they are taken off their pedestal. We’ve seen it happen to a lot of players. Michael Jordan, when his gambling became the issue that everybody focused on in a certain period of his career. For Kobe, it was an act that changed his life. Soon after, the Lakers had a back-to-back with Portland. We had played them at home and then flew to Portland. It’s not a nice trip. It’s raining. We must have gotten in at 3 o’clock in the morning. I always had a meeting with the coaches in the morning. And we’re meeting at 9 o’clock in the basement of the hotel, and we’re sitting there, and Kobe comes in the door. It’s Ash Wednesday, and he’s got ashes. He’s gotten up and gone to church.

Phil also recalled the moment when he realized the amount of work Kobe was putting in every day to get better. It was so radical that he even slept in a parking lot outside of the gym he was practicing.

“From then on in his career, it was all growth to a point where we saw a guy that did some miraculous things. It was dedication. I often went to work at 8:30, and if we had a late-night, that’s pretty early. I’d pull into my parking spot, and Kobe’d be there taking a nap in his car. He’d been there since 6:30 working out. He had a remarkable drive towards getting better. I’ve never seen another player attack his personal habits the way he did.”

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