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Was Kobe Bryant like Mike with his teammates?
After Watching The Last Dance, a lot of fans became turned off to how Michael Jordan treated some of his teammates.
Did Kobe Bryant treat his teammates like Mike? Was he even tougher? Does it really matter? What they did do was win 11 combined championships in The NBA.
In The NFL, I doubt there’s a team that doesn’t have guys fighting during training camp. If there isn’t conflict, then I’d bet that team is going to have a very high draft pick the following spring.
Kobe made them Cry
There are certain players that I’ve made cry. If I can make you cry by being sarcastic, then I really don’t want to play with you in the playoffs if that’s making you cry.”
-Kobe Bryant 2015
Whole lotta cryin going on
Kobe Bryant has literally made multiple teammates cry. He told Slava Medvedenko, “You know, dude, you might want to reconsider what your life purpose is. Maybe it’s not this.”
In 2005, during a Lakers practice, Kobe Bryant elbowed Sasha Vujacic and made him cry. Not sure what to do, Bryant seeked advice from a friend.
Bryant comes to crave his talks with Abdul-Jabbar, whose reputation for being unapproachable is hardly a thing to stop Bryant. “So Kareem is aloof,” Bryant says. “And Michael is supposed to be an a–hole because he made Steve Kerr cry. Doesn’t matter to me. I made people cry too.”
Indeed he did. Perhaps you’ve heard the legendary tale of how Kobe once elbowed teammate Sasha Vujacic in the face during a 2004-2005 practice, causing Vujacic to burst into tears? What you do not know is that following the incident, Kobe calls Jordan, seeking his counsel. Even Kobe wonders: Has he gone too far?
“Sometimes you have to be an a–hole,” says Jordan today when asked about that conversation. “Sometimes your teammates are going to hate you, but all the guys I went after — Luc Longley, Steve Kerr, Jud Buechler — they won multiple championships, so I’m pretty sure they understand.”
During a game in December 2005, Vujacic tried to make a pass that got intercepted, Kobe embarrassed Sasha during the next timeout. The Lakers won this game against the Wizards. After the game Kobe approached Vucacic and pulled him aside in the locker room. According to Kobe, he said
“You fucking suck. You suck at basketball, and you have no business being on the same court as me. You’re the most worthless, garbage player I’ve ever seen in my life. You’re nothing. Get the fuck off my team.’ I remember the look he had on his face like it was yesterday.”
In 2002 Kobe gave teammate Samaki Walker a black eye. The Lakers used to bet $100 each on who could hit a half court shot first. Kobe won the pot on this occasion, and the losers were supposed to have 48 hours to pay. Kobe decided he wanted Samaki to pay sooner than that.
Kobe walks on the bus and asks Walker for his share of the money. “I don’t have it right now” Walker exclaimed.
“First of all why you coming at me for a $100” Samaki said putting his headphones back on.
Kobe then punched Walker in his eye, blackening it.
Kobe Bryant was playing in a scrimmage against his teammates at Lakers practice, guarding Nick Young. Nick said to Kobe “No one in the world can guard me”, Bryant came back with “You’re going exactly where I want you to go.”
Later during the practice, Kobe said to Young and the entire Lakers team
“You motherfuckers are soft like Charmin in this motherfucker. God damn, is this the type of shit that’s going on in these practices? Now I see why we’ve lost 20 fucking games. We’re soft like Charmin. We’re soft like shit.”
“Practice gets real uncomfortable when I’m in this motherfucker.”
“I’m supposed to practice and get better, Mitch. I’m supposed to practice and get better. These motherfuckers ain’t doing shit for me.“
A few more things
Kobe questioned Derek Fisher’s masculinity in front of his wife and kids.
In 1997 as a rookie Bryant told Byron Scott that he couldn’t play for shit. Nearly 20 years later he was able to tell Scott that he couldn’t coach for shit either.
In the summer of 2012, the Lakers brought in Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. There aren’t actual quotes or footage to document the problems they had.
When Dwight Howard left, Kobe blamed him stating “the union didn’t work because Howard was soft”. I can only imagine some of the things that were said while they were Kobe Bryant’s teammates.
When Steve Nash was asked to describe Kobe in three words he said “Mother. Fucking. Asshole.”
We saw Michael Jordan get emotional about the way he acted at times during the Last Dance premiere.
Kobe Bryant was the same way in interviews for the last 2 years prior to his death, questioning or feeling regret towards the players he berated during his career.
If either man wasn’t this hard on their teammates, neither may have as many championships. I know the players who won rings with both historical greats are not upset about how it went down. When it was all said and done, being one of Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan’s teammates meant winning championships.