Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant managed to get the absolute most out of his athletic talent thanks to his incredible will and renowned work ethic. Night in and night out, he gave the Lakers everything he had, often willing the team to victory even when the situation looked bleak.
Bryant set scoring records, brought home five championships, had countless unforgettable moments in the playoffs, but as it turns out, it was something else that brought out the best in him. Instead, it was a guarantee he made during the 2012-13 season, one which Lakers fans wish they could forget, that caused him to bring his game to a whole new level.
As detailed by Baxter Holmes of ESPN, Bryant credited a playoff guarantee for pushing him to be his absolute best:
“I felt like the die had to be cast, even for my teammates,” Bryant says today. “It had to be understood — we’re doing this thing. It’s not a wishy-washy thing. It’s, ‘No, we’re doing it.’ Sometimes, when you’re putting it out in the public like that, those things have a tendency to manifest themselves.”
Bryant says he felt the weight of that guarantee as the Lakers entered this most crucial stretch, which started in Sacramento.
“Yeah, but I loved it. I f—ing loved it,” Bryant says. “It pushed me to a level that I had never been to before — ever — in my career.”
Most will remember that season as a colossal disappointment. Expectations were sky-high with Bryant and Pau Gasol being joined by stars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, creating a team that was expected to contend for a title.
Instead, they found themselves besieged by chemistry issues and an onslaught on injuries, but through it all, Bryant was there doing everything he could to will his team into the postseason.
Then-head coach Mike D’Antoni routinely played Bryant over 40 minutes per game, including a stretch of seven straight games down the home stretch where Bryant rarely subbed out. He was incredible, but we all know the unfortunate outcome.
Bryant played incredibly well, ultimately helping the Lakers make the playoffs, but he tore his Achilles with two games remaining on the schedule, which marked the beginning of the twilight of his career.
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