Kobe Bryant was a dog. He worked out as hard and as long as anyone ever. I did not know this about him until I began my journey into culture in 2015, and I regret I didn't appreciate how hard this man worked while he was playing.
When I took over at North Forney in 2017, I knew I had to talk to them about how the elite work out. They do more than is expected (a lot more), but no one told me when I was younger, so my mind didn't go there just like their minds won't either unless they are told about it.
We spent a week in our Leadership Academy on the subject of 'Greatness is Over-rated.' This means it takes SO MUCH EFFORT to be great that it is not for everyone. Being on camera as you compete is about .0001% of what it takes to be great or a legend like Kobe Bryant.
I talked about elite athletes who put in thousands of hours in preparation that no one saw. Michael Phelps went seven years and did not miss A SINGLE DAY of training...Thanksgiving morning? ...In the pool. Christmas morning?...in the pool. His birthday?...in the pool!
I have other examples, but this blog is about Kobe Bryant and a fantastic story of his workout before an Olympic basketball practice.
I hope you will share this story with your athletes for two reasons; so they can know what legends do to be legends and so that hopefully, when they think of Kobe Bryant, they know he was a DOG.
This is the story (one of many you can find about his work ethic) told on the website, Reddit, by an anonymous trainer:
I’ve been a professional athletic trainer for about 16 years and have been able to work with a range of athletes from the high school to professional level. Right now I run in a clinic in Cincinnati and have most recently been training with some players on the Bengals.
I activated my reddit account just a moment ago and because I’ve been seeing the videos of Kobe’s most recent dunks and the comments you guys have had to share I decided I might as well chime in what I know about the man. And let me just state by saying that this story doesn’t touch on anything we don’t know about Kobe but rather that he simply is not human when he is working on his craft.
I was invited to Las Vegas this past Summer to help Team USA with their conditioning before they head off to London, and as we know they would eventually bring home the Gold (USA). I’ve had the opportunity to work with Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade in the past but this would be my first interaction with Kobe. We first met three days before the first scrimmage, on the day of the first practice, early July. It was a brief conversation where we talked about conditioning, where he would like to be by the end of the Summer, and we talked a little bit about the hustle of the Select Team. Then he got my number and I let him know that if he ever wanted some extra training he could hit me up any time.
The night before the first scrimmage I remember I was just watched “Casablanca” for the first time and it was about 3:30 AM. I lay in bed, slowly fading away when I hear my cell ring. It was Kobe. I nervously picked up.
“Hey, uhh Rob, I hope I’m not disturbing anything right?”
“Uhh no, what’s up Kob?”
“Just wondering if you could just help me out with some conditioning work, that’s all.”
I checked my clock. 4:15 AM.
“Yeah sure, I’ll see you in the facility in a bit.”
It took me about twenty minutes to get my gear and out of the hotel. When I arrived and opened the room to the main practice floor I saw Kobe. Alone. He was drenched in sweat as if he had just taken a swim. It wasn’t even 5AM.
We did some conditioning work for the next hour and fifteen minutes. Then we entered the weight room, where he would do a multitude of strength training exercises for the next 45 minutes. After that we parted ways and he went back to the practice floor to shoot. I went back to the hotel and crashed. Wow.
I was expected to be at the floor again at about 11 AM. I woke up feeling sleepy, drowsy, and almost pretty much every side effect of sleep deprivation. Thanks, Kobe. I had a bagel and headed to the practice facility.
This next part I remember very vividly. All the Team USA players were there, feeling good for the first scrimmage. LeBron was talking to Carmelo if I remember correctly and Coach Krzyzewski was trying to explain something to Kevin Durant. On the right side of the practice facility was Kobe by himself shooting jumpers. And this is how our next conversation went – I went over to him, patted him on the back and said, “Good work this morning.”
“Like, the conditioning. Good work.”
“Oh. Yeah, thanks Rob. I really appreciate it.”
“So when did you finish?”
“Getting your shots up. What time did you leave the facility?”
“Oh just now. I wanted 800 makes so yeah, just now.”
My jaw dropped. Mother of holy God. It was then that I realized that there’s no surprise to why he’s been as effective as he was last season. Every story about his dedication, every quote that he’s said about hard work all came together and hit me like a train. It’s no surprise to me now that he’s dunking on players ten years younger than him and it wasn’t a surprise to me earlier this year when he led the league in scoring.