LOS ANGELES — It was Kobe Bryant’s night one more time at Staples Center.
On the night Kobe’s numbers 8 and 24 were retired by the team, the Lakers’ home arena was filled with former teammates and basketball luminaries — Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Bill Russell, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf, and many, many more. They were all sharing stories of Kobe and his drive and force of will.
One of those former teammates was Luke Walton, who now coaches the Lakers. He captured Kobe’s mentality perfectly when asked about how playing with Kobe influenced him as a coach. Walton noted that Bryant had the highest hoops IQ of any player he had been around, and how they used to strategize before games while watching film.
“I joke, he sees everything, but when the game starts a lot of times he doesn’t want to hear it,” Walton said. “I’d say ‘Kobe we talked about this yesterday, if they do this then I’m going to throw the ball over here,’ and it’s like, ‘NO. Give me the ball.’ ‘Sure.’”
That’s Kobe. Nobody ever questioned if he knew the game, he was clearly very intelligent and when he wanted to could take apart opponents with his passing. It was just most times he didn’t want to, he wanted to do it himself.