Rookie Jay Williams would get to the Staples hours before the game. He wanted to be the first guy in the gym. He wasn’t. Kobe was. There was no way of outworking the guy nor matching his intensity. Because when everyone’s pregame routines were nonchalant, Bryant’s were game-like. And Williams isn’t the only guy who witnessed it. Gilbert Arenas is another one.
This man in real-time, full contact, and you better hit him how he gets hit in the game.Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports
If he was doing one-two pull-ups after a pump fake, you better jump, and you better land on him. If he was practicing his turnaround jumpers, you better get physical with him down low and contest his shot while falling away. If he was driving to the rim, you better hit him on his hand and try to disrupt his rhythm.
Kobe demanded a game treatment during his pregame routine because that was the best way to come in and be prepared. So what was a demanding 48 minute run for most became a comfort zone for Bryant. He knew what was coming because he had experienced it hours before the game itself. That’s why he didn’t need an in-game adjustment period. He didn’t need to get used to opponents’ physicality. He would come in and be ready to go, which gave him a head start over others.
He’s playing us, and he’s over there talking about Raja Bell won’t play him like that. ‘He ain’t that nice, he plays dirty, he’s gonna pull me here, he’s gonna go here, he’s gonna swipe this way. So let’s go,’ and you’re just watching it in real-time.Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports
And while watching Kobe go to work, Arenas also learned that the best way to improve his game is to emulate in-game situations and put yourself in realistic scenarios you’re going to come in contact with while facing different NBA teams. You have to have a certain endurance level to do it, both physically and mentally, but the upside of doing it is huge.
However, not everyone is built like that, especially to the Kobe Bryant level. As I said, there was no way of outworking the guy. But there was also no way of matching his passion or the extents he would go towards perfecting his craft. His pregame routines are the ultimate proof of that.