Skip to main content

Byron Scott Says He Knew Kobe Bryant Was Going To Be Special After Watching His Work Ethic As A Rookie

Byron Scott Says He Knew Kobe Bryant Was Going To Be Special After Watching His Work Ethic As A Rookie

When Jerry West made the decision to trade starting center Vlade Divac for a 17-year-old Kobe Bryant after the 1996 NBA Draft, few could have predicted what was to come next. Bryant wasn't a very highly thought of prospect, and he was coming into the NBA straight out of high school, which wasn't something very common back in the day.

He had a slow start to his career, as you would expect of someone so young, but Kobe soon started to show just why West had made the decision to trade for him. Byron Scott, who was a veteran on the team during Kobe's rookie year, also realized that Bryant was going to be something special when he saw his work ethic. He recounted his early impressions of a young Kobe during an episode of his "Off the Dribble" podcast.

(starts at 1:26 mark):

Like you, I have played with a bunch of great players, Hall of Famers, top 75 you know all that and not to say that they didn't work hard. I know Hakeem (Olajuwon) worked hard, Magic (Johnson) worked his ass off, James (Worthy) worked his ass off, cap (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) worked it, but this dude, he took it to a whole different level. I was blessed to see that in my last year with the Lakers and you know, I'm sitting there watching this kid and I'm going 'man, this dude, this thing's going to be unbelievable.'"

Bryant's excellent work ethic right from the get-go was one of the biggest reasons why he became such a great player. Shaquille O'Neal also once showed how Kobe used to shadow practice without the ball as a rookie, which was very unusual. They used to find that to be hilarious, but that was just Kobe working on the fundamentals, and it definitely paid off for him in the years to come.

It was that burning desire to improve his game, no matter what anyone else thought about it, that led Kobe down the path of becoming one of the all-time greats in the history of the NBA.