For those that worked alongside him, stories of Kobe Bryant’s legendary competitiveness seem to flow with the frequency he used to drop points on opposing teams. Story after story has come out over the years of players and coaches describing Bryant like fish would describe a shark sniffing for blood, and the latest example came from the team’s new head coach, Luke Walton.
Walton spent his rookie year and the majority of his next eight seasons in the NBA playing alongside Bryant, and he detailed what it was like for a rookie to end up his cross hairs during an appearance on UNINTERRUPTED’s “Open Run” podcast on Wednesday.
“I probably had too much to drink the night before,” Walton recalled. “So I came in, I was a rookie, I felt good, and they could smell some alcohol on me, and Kobe informed the rest of the team that nobody was allowed to help me on defense, and that I had to guard him the entire practice.
“And I was laughing at first, like ‘oh, this is funny,’ Walton continued. “But in Kobe’s mind, in his eyes, he was like ‘no, i see and smell weakness, I’m going to destroy you today.’ He taught me a lesson (laughing), he taught me a lesson. He probably scored 70-something in practice that day, and I’m begging for help, but none of my teammates would help. His killer instinct, and his work ethic will stick with me forever.”
That... That sounds like the worst morning ever, and kudos to Walton for not just retiring on the spot. Let his story be a lesson to any interns at Kobe Inc. thinking of showing up to work at less than 100 percent. The Mamba can smell alcohol, and he will destroy you.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.