Those that tuned into the latest episodes of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” on Sunday got to see how much Michael Jordan talked trash to his Chicago Bulls teammates at practice — he was relentless. Kobe Bryant was similar to Jordan in that way, but Bryant’s Lakers teammates didn’t just stand there and take it like many of Jordan’s teammates did.
In fact, according to a story from Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, one of Bryant’s teammates irritated him to the point where Phil Jackson had to step in. That teammate, of course, was none other than Ron Artest:
“One day in practice I just disrupted the whole practice because I didn’t want them to think, Metta’s on this team, he don’t got a ring, we got a ring, he just gotta come in with the ultimate respect,” said World Peace, whose Houston Rockets team lost to the Lakers in the 2009 playoffs. “It was still a lot of respect, but I had to — I just wanted to compete. I just got finished losing against these guys.”
He talked trash to Bryant and to Jackson, behaving as if he was an opponent, not a teammate. Eventually Jackson tried to defuse the situation.
“Ronny, that’s enough,” he said.
What’s funny about that story is that, of every player in the NBA at the time, Artest was the last player that needed to prove that he was a fierce competitor. I mean, we’re talking about the guy that threatened to elbow Kobe Bryant in the middle of the Western Conference Semifinals in 2009. Artest’s reputation preceded him, but apparently he needed to make sure everyone knew he was and what he was about.
Given the type of competitor Bryant was, there’s no doubt that he appreciated that, even if it bothered him in the moment. Who knows? — that could have been the exact moment Kobe decided he was going to pass Artest the ball.