Kobe Bryant has always been known for his obsessive qualities. He is one of the hardest workers to ever step foot on an NBA court and could garner motivation from any number of different sources.
In an article on the Players’ Tribune Bryant opened up about one of his early obsessions, Allen Iverson. During their rookie seasons in 1996, Bryant recalled Iverson dropping 41 points and 10 assists on him in a game. Bryant said he would use that game as motivation and maniacally study everything about Iverson.
Kobe held onto that until the 2000 season when he finally got his chance at revenge:
“On Feb 20, 2000, in Philadelphia, PJ gave me the assignment of guarding AI at the start of the second half. No one knew how much this challenge meant to me. I wanted him to feel the frustration I felt. I wanted everyone who laughed at the 41 and 10 he put on me to choke on their laughter.
He would publicly say that neither of us could stop the other. I refused to believe that. I score 50. You score zero. THAT is what I believe.
When I started guarding AI, he had 16 at the half. He finished the game with 16. Revenge was sweet.”
This is a very interesting look at the kinds of things that drove Kobe during his playing days. Iverson was a college star who was immediately one of the best players in the NBA. He should have dominated Kobe early in their careers, and he did so. But Kobe refused to accept that.
Kobe’s work ethic is bar none, and that is one of the reasons why the Lakers front office is so keen on their young guys like Brandon Ingram working out with him over the summer. Kobe knows what it takes to be great, and the hope is that he can pass some of that down to the next generation.