There are a handful of players that have had the honor of playing side by side with either LeBron James or Kobe Bryant and had the chance to face the other. Shane Battier is one of those, as he was constantly asked to guard Kobe and shared the court with LeBron during his time with the Miami Heat.
That’s why he can give a first-hand input on what it’s like to be around those kinds of legends. Their work ethic, the things that make them stand out from the rest of the pack. A couple of days ago, Martenzie Johnson of The Undefeated reached out to him to asked him about it and his response was unsurprising:
“You played with and against LeBron, you played against Kobe. What made those two so much better than everyone else?” Johnson asked.
“The great ones that I’ve played with and against, obviously their physical talents are just different. They’re born with the set of physical tools that no one else has. But there are a lot of guys that I played with that had physical tools that didn’t have the mental component,” Battier started.
“The truly, truly great ones, they have an undeniable competitive spirit. They do whatever it takes to win. They do whatever it takes to inspire their teammates, in many different ways. The meticulous nature in which they take care of their bodies and make sure they’re always at their best physically; it’s a different level. To be a special player like that it can’t be understated the amount of work that goes into it. It really is a full-time job. And I was professional, I worked really hard. I don’t think I worked as hard as those guys. I drank too much beer. But it was inspiring to see the truly greats up close and personal on both sides and understand what true greatness is,” Battier concluded.
It’s often been said that Kobe and LeBron are freaks of nature but more than that, they’ve always been obsessed with their craft, their durability, and the way they take care of their bodies.
Bryant and LeBron can be outplayed from time to time. It happens, but they’ll never be outhustled. No one will ever work as hard as them, and that goes beyond the hardwood. Even when they’re not in practice, they’re in practice. That’s what made them legends.