Phil Handy has been a coach in the NBA for over a decade now, but that's not what he'd always imagined he'd end up doing. Handy was a very successful trainer before he started his coaching career with the Lakers back in 2011, after which he had stints with the Cavaliers and the Raptors before returning to LA in 2019.
He has won championships at every stop after leaving the Lakers for the first time in 2013 and shares a great relationship with the likes of Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. None of this would have happened, though, if not for Kobe Bryant, whom Handy termed as the only reason why he decided to coach in the NBA during an episode of the "No Chill with Gilbert Arenas" podcast.
"I had no desire to be a coach. That was not part of my plan, to be a coach in the NBA so to speak. I just knew I wanted to try to impact the game of basketball on a global scale in terms of helping athletes become elite with their skill, that was my motivation."
"In 2011 Mike Brown got hired by the Lakers, my motivation in the industry was I wanted to be able to train with some of the best players ever, so when Mike got that job, and the opportunity came for me to work with the Lakers, the only thing that really sold me on it, was to have the opportunity to stand next to Kobe, that was it. I wasn't interested in necessarily coaching in the NBA, I wanted the opportunity to see if my skill set as a trainer was good enough to impact a guy like Kobe. That was my motivation and that was the only reason I took that job."
Handy had made a big name for himself as a trainer, so it was always going to take a very special opportunity for him to give that up, and working with Kobe was just that. Not many would have been able to resist the temptation of trying to find out if they could have an impact on the great Kobe Bryant, and to Handy's credit, he did manage to do it.
He also spoke about his experiences of working with another all-time great in LeBron during this episode, as Handy explained how he plays differently in the playoffs than in the regular season.