Michael Jordan was notoriously hard on his teammates.
Kobe Bryant wanted to be like Michael Jordan.
So, of course Bryant was hard on his teammates.
But – according to Phil Jackson, who coached both players – the more-reserved Bryant didn’t fraternize with his teammates as easily as Jordan. Even as Bryant made more effort later in his career, it’s hard for any injured player to connect while spending so much time away from the team.
Approaching the 2015 trade deadline, the Lakers were lousy. Bryant was hurt. The Lakers had eyes for talented help, but players like Jeremy Lin and Jordan Hill held little appeal around the league.
Inside The Green Room:
Imagine being on the #Lakers with Kobe Bryant and going into February w/ trading deadline approaching with a 13-34 record. @JLin7 recalled a practice during that 2014-15 season.
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— Inside The Green Room (@GreenRoomInside) May 14, 2020
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. And all of a sudden, he walks in the gym – and this is the day before the trade deadline – and we’re all about to start practice. We’re on the baseline. We’re stretching, doing our dynamic warm-up or whatever. And then he comes in. Sweatsuits. He has a sling for his hurt shoulder. And he has his shades on, his Kobe shades. And he walks in and everyone’s like “Ohhhhh.” And Booz, Carlos Boozer, is like, “Kooob! 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 then I remember one of my teammates was just like, “I lost all motivation to practice.”
We could turn this into a larger discussion of Bryant’s leadership or whether the demotivated teammate was soft. I’d rather just note this kicker:
The Lakers didn’t make a trade before the deadline.