During his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant was extremely competitive in practices, knowing how it would translate into games. As Bryant pushed his teammates in practice, the regular season and playoffs became much easier for them.
With the 2018-19 NBA season already a quarter in, one of the major storylines was Jimmy Butler requesting a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves. When they did not immediately trade him, Butler showed up to practice where he challenged Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins while dominating them in a scrimmage third-string players as his teammates.
For Bryant, he viewed Butler’s infamous practice and rant as just another day for him during his time with the Lakers, via “The Corp Podcast” by Barstool Sports:
“I think most of my teams would just call it a Monday. They’d just call it a Monday. It’s just a regular practice. … Listen, practices are meant to be competitive. They’re meant to be competitive. If your practices aren’t more competitive than the games themselves, you’re doing the wrong thing. And most of these teams and coaches have gotten into a mindset of resting players. ‘Oh, it’s too much. We’re not gonna practice. Light day, light day, light day.’ Phil never gave us a light day. There’s no days off. You show up and you work. And practices are going to be worse. They’re going to be more physical. There’s going to be more trash talking, and I’m going to let you know. If you didn’t show up today, I’m gonna let you know. It’s gonna be embarrassing, and you’re gonna hate it. But when Game 7 rolls around in the NBA Finals, you will be prepared.”
Bryant’s competitiveness even during practices and the stories that come from them adds to his future Hall of Fame career. While some players could not handle that approach, there is no denying the five championships in seven NBA Finals appearances.
In a time when players are resting any chance they get, Butler’s actions have been up for debate, but it was regular for Bryant and the Lakers.