Lakers head coach Luke Walton learned a very valuable lesson from Kobe Bryant early in his career. Unfortunately for him, he learned the hard way.
Walton recently appeared on Jesse Williams’ “Open Run” podcast, and shared a story which dates back to when he was a rookie in the league. He admitted to showing up to practice one day a bit hungover, and opened up about what Kobe Bryant did afterwards that probably made him think twice about doing it again.
“I probably had too much to drink the night before,” Walton recalled. “So I came in, I was a rookie, I felt good, and they could smell some alcohol on me, and Kobe informed the rest of the team that nobody was allowed to help me on defense, and that I had to guard him the entire practice.
“And I was laughing at first, like ‘oh, this is funny,’ Walton continued. “But in Kobe’s mind, in his eyes, he was like ‘no, i see and smell weakness, I’m going to destroy you today.’ He taught me a lesson (laughing), he taught me a lesson. He probably scored 70-something in practice that day, and I’m begging for help, but none of my teammates would help. His killer instinct, and his work ethic will stick with me forever.”
There are a lot of great Kobe stories, but this one ranks high up there, because it sounds exactly like something he would do. Bryant, in a sense, disciplined Walton, and his teammates were there to witness it, so a message was sent to them as well.