Kobe Bryant’s impact on the NBA was visible even during his first years in the league. The Black Mamba arrived in the league with one mission, become great and help his team relived the old glories that players like Magic Johnson or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar lived.
Kobe knew he had everything to be great but he also needed to get his teammates to be better and he tried to do so as soon as he landed in Los Angeles. Back in January, in the wake of his death, Robert Horry told a story of an 18-year-old Kobe Bryant, his strong personality and how he tried to make everybody around him better. On ESPN’s ‘The Jump’, Horry recalled:
“I was one of the guys around when he was a rookie. A lot of guys were upset at him because back then you could bring beer into the locker room and when we got him on the team, it was like, “No more beer?! Man you messed everything up young kid.” And I think that was the thing. Back then guys weren’t used to an 18 year old kid coming into the league, and he’s a good 18 year old kid who is going to take someone’s spot. A lot of guys were kinda standoff-ish to him, but to me he’s apart of the team, he’s a basketball player. You loved this guy because he was such a competitor. That’s what I know. In the very first practice, we were going through a walkthrough and he was going a 100 miles an hour. I’m like, “Dude, calm down. It’s a walk through!” He was that type of competitor. He made everyone on our team better, because you knew, if you didn’t come it with that day, you were going to get embarrassed [By Kobe].”
That sounds a lot like Kobe. He left his mark everywhere he went and he did that with the Lakers as soon as he arrived there. A former Lakers coach recently revealed Kobe wasn’t the best teammate during his first years in the league and this story is yet another proof of that.
He wanted to be great, he wanted to be remembered as one of the GOAT and he worked on that from a very young age. You know he was special when you see somebody tell this type of story about him. Imagine the clout you have to have to change the activities in the locker room when you are only 18.