Throughout his illustrious career, Kobe Bryant has been known as a hard worker and one that is willing do whatever it takes to win. During the 2009 and 2010 championship runs, Bryant received some help from Mike Procopio, who is in his first full season as director of player development for the Mavericks, according to Suffolk’s Magazine’s Jamie Aron.
During the 2009 Playoffs, the Lakers faced the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals. With Shane Battier defending him, Bryant asked Procopio to create a scouting report on one of the best defenders in the NBA:
Procopio discovered the issue wasn’t Battier, but Bryant. See, Battier funneled Bryant toward Rockets star Yao Ming, daring Bryant to shoot over the 7-foot-6 center. He fell for it way too often. Telling Bryant he was taking too many shots, and a lot of dumb ones, was tough, but Procopio did it.
The Lakers won the series, and Bryant found a way to get around Battier’s defensive pressure by averaging 27 points while shooting 45.3 percent from the field in the seven games. The results paid off, and Bryant continued to receive these scouting reports and videos from Procopio when the Lakers took on the Boston Celtics a year later in the 2010 NBA Finals:
“He’s my Jack Bauer,” Bryant said, referring to the fictional hero of the TV show 24. “He gave me all the edits and scouting reports and wrote defensive rotations of the Celtics. He was my eyes and ears, so when I played the game, I’d use all the scouting reports and all the information. And it was huge for me.”
Bryant led the Lakers to another title that year behind his 28.3 points per game against one of the best defensive teams in the league. After failing to win in 2008, Procopio provided great information to help Bryant get past the Celtics defense two seasons later to earn his fifth championship. Although Bryant offered to pay, Procopio kept it pro bono, but did receive a championship ring with his name inscribed on the side.
Although they are no longer in contact with each other, Procopio started a basketball consultancy business shortly after that eventually resulted into a position with the Mavericks.
Kobe Bryant On Change THIS Summer, Jim and Jeanie Buss, Coaching Staff