The one season that Kobe Bryant and Jeremy Lin spent together on the Los Angeles Lakers is among the worst seasons in franchise history. Injuries limited Bryant to just 35 games, Lin never gelled with head coach Byron Scott, and the Lakers finished 21-61, the second-worst record the team has ever produced.
Nevertheless, it seems just about anyone who has spent any time playing with Bryant — no matter how good or bad the season — has a quintessential Kobe story, and Lin is no exception. On the latest episode of Danny Green’s podcast, “Inside the Green Room,” he recalled a hilarious memory in which Bryant let it be known (in a very Bryant way) that the team was not living up to his standards:
“I remember at this time he had gotten hurt and he was out for the season, so he wasn’t around for quite some time, just rehabbing and being away from the team and stuff. And then all of a sudden after we hadn’t seen him in a few weeks... he walks in the gym, and this is the day before the trade deadline, and we’re all about to start practice. We’re stretching, doing our dynamic warm-up or whatever.
“And then he comes in, sweatshirt, he has a sling for his hurt shoulder, he has his shades on, his Kobe shades. And he walks in and everyone’s like ‘ohhhhhhhhhh’ and Booz, Carlos Boozer, is like ‘Kob! Good to see you bro! Dang, we haven’t seen you in a bit, how come you came today?’
“And he was just stone-faced, and he was like ‘I just came by to say bye to some of you bums who are going to get traded tomorrow.’ And then he sits down at the table where you control the scoreboard at the practice facility and he said a couple words to the coach, and then he left. And I remember one of my teammates was just like ‘I lost all motivation to practice.’”
From the showing up to practice in shades to verbally destroying teammates who were happy to see him, the only way this story could be more peak Kobe is if he had capped his remarks by hissing like a snake and calling everyone soft.
Making this even funnier in retrospect, the Lakers did not actually make a trade at the 2015 deadline, which means that this is just Bryant’s signature (and brutal) dry wit, but the fact that one of his teammates was so scared that they literally did not want to practice anymore is just hysterical.
As an aside, we absolutely need to figure out which teammate that was. We are open for guesses (you can take a look at the roster here) in the comments.
In all seriousness, though, stories of Bryant’s legendarily cutting trash talk have been one of the best things to smile and laugh about as we all try to mourn in the aftermath of his loss. Just when you think you’ve heard them all, someone drops one more (like this) that is just so quintessentially Kobe. I just wish we weren’t only hearing them because he’s gone.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.