Former Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant remains one of the NBA’s greatest talents behind his illustrious 20-year career. This led Bryant to take a harsh mental approach to the game, allowing him to take his skills to huge heights. However, it also created some tough learning lessons for his teammates, including one that required him to force them to take off his Nike shoes.
Kobe Bryant’s last three seasons plagued by injuries and Lakers shortcomings
Bryant’s 20-year career in the NBA has included many sustained successes and defining moments for the legacy.
However, the past three years have not gone as hoped as the Lakers struggled to build a winning team around the five-time NBA champion. Los Angeles have failed to win more than 30 games in those campaigns, most notably recording Bryant’s worst 17-65 franchise record last year in the 2015-16 season.
After tearing his Achilles tendon, he struggled to regain his elite form as nagging injuries plagued him. Bryant only played six games in the 2013-14 season with a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. The following year, he suffered a torn rotator cuff that cut short his 19th campaign after 35 games.
In Bryant’s last season, he played 66 games, but the team were far from being a playoff contender. Despite the team’s constant shortcomings, that didn’t stop him from berating his teammates in a resounding loss.
Kobe Bryant once angrily forced his teammates to throw his shoes off at halftime: “Every time I move on the court, I hit the basketball”
During the last three seasons of Bryant’s career, he has struggled to find consistent success in Los Angeles.
The Lakers fell well short of the playoffs as he struggled to stay on the court with nagging injuries. Despite that, that hasn’t deterred him from pushing to get the most out of his teammates.
One of his former teammates, Lou Williams, recalled one such experience during his brief stay in Los Angeles. During an appearance on “JMJ?” with Ros Gold-Onwude, ”said Williams after being blown away in the first half of a regular season game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Bryant at halftime had all of his teammates take off their Kobe Nike shoes while delivering a stern message.
“We were in Portland and we blew ourselves up,” Williams said. “He was not very happy that we were blown away. He said, “From now on, every time I come down the court, I hit the basketball. He told the whole team. He said: “I touch basketball every time on the court, and you are all going to learn what it’s like to play with Kobe F’in Bean Bryant.”
“And (he had) a straight look on his face. He wasn’t kidding. “From now on, the rest of the season, I hit the ball every time on the pitch. “
While this was an unusual request, Bryant certainly garnered immense respect from his teammates, especially if they all wore a pair of his Nike basketball shoes. The former Lakers big has reached a breaking point and just wanted to teach his teammates a hard lesson.
further feeds Kobe Bryant’s legacy
Bryant hasn’t enjoyed sustained success in the last three years of his career, but that doesn’t diminish his legacy.
The former Lakers great has poured every ounce of talent of himself behind his hard work and dedication. This created the Mamba Mentality state of mind that fueled his passion for the game and times like those Williams described lining up with what was not acceptable for Bryant’s standards.
He established himself as an all-time great who had a significant impact on the generations of NBA talent that followed him. If anything, Williams’ story further engages why Bryant commanded tremendous respect and admiration.
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