Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in both NBA history and the illustrious record books of the Los Angeles Lakers for a multitude of reasons. But perhaps chief among them other than his transcendent statistical accomplishments is his legendary work ethic.
Bryant has received praise for how hard he works from all corners of the NBA, with virtually everyone who has ever encountered him speaking glowingly of how unending his competitiveness and drive to win were, and how much time they led to him spending on his craft.
The latest one of Bryant’s former teammates to speak up about what made him so great was Caron Butler, who played with Bryant for one year after the Lakers acquired him in their trade that sent Shaquille O’Neal to the Miami Heat.
During an appearance on “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd, Butler recalled that his first exposure to Bryant was how quickly he wanted to make sure he lived up to his new contract right after the moment he signed it:
“I come here and Kobe signs this amazing deal, hundreds of millions and he says ‘Hey, it’s time to work.’ I’m talking about early morning workouts, after-practice one-on-one sessions, film sessions. I was prepared because I went to the Miami Heat. I was taught how to be a professional under Pat Riley, Stan Van Gundy, Erik Spoelstra. And then I come here and now you’re not just being taught it, you’re being shown it.”
Watching how hard Bryant worked and how great all that extra effort made him could only leave Butler with one conclusion:
“Greatest player of our generation hands down: Kobe Bryant.”
And While Bryant’s hard-driving motivation style might not be for everyone, Butler said he appreciated it:
“Absolutely. All the time. He talks all the time. ‘You can’t stop me, you can’t hold me.’ And that’s what you love. You’re either going to be turned up from it or turned down by it. It elevates you to a whole other level.”
There is always going to be debate over the pros and cons of how driven Bryant was, with his advocates arguing how successful he was and his detractors saying that he could’ve had more if he didn’t potentially drive some teamamtes away with how demanding he was that others meet his standard.
We’ll never know for sure, but it seems like things worked out all right for Bryant regardless when so many of his peers are willing to call him the best player they ever played with or against.