Lakers News: Gary Payton Details What Made Kobe Bryant Different From Others
Catherine Steenkeste-Getty Images

The 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers are one of the better collections of talent the NBA has ever seen.

In an attempt to win one more championship with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers signed Gary Payton and Karl Malone in 2003 NBA free agency. While those two were in the latter stages of their careers, they were still skilled.

During that season, Payton became sort of a mentor to Bryant. The two played similar positions and Bryant wanted to improve as a defender and did so, making the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team. Bryant was also going through the controversy of his Colorado case and Payton helped him face that adversity.

Through it all, Payton learned that Bryant’s willingness to learn and get better made him different from others, via ‘All the Smoke’ podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson:

Payton’s description of Bryant is one of the more perfect ones of him as he discussed Bryant’s hunger to learn more information. It’s also a perfect Bryant story that he told Payton he wanted to be on the All-Defensive team, just to successfully do it that same season.

Payton spoke about how Bryant would always approach him after practices to ask about specific defensive moves and how he did them. Payton was happy to teach Bryant and in turn, Bryant became one of the league’s best perimeter defenders for the next decade.

Bryant is obviously very famous for his ‘Mamba Mentality’ as it was the driving force of his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame career. It’s clear that this mentality had developed far before he became one of the league’s top players.

Payton also may have been the perfect mentor for Bryant as he is the type of person who would teach him whatever he wanted to know but would never make things easy for him.

You May Also Like

Larry Nance Jr. Believes Lakers ‘Going Home A Better Team’ After Grammy Trip

Though things got rough down the stretch, the Los Angeles Lakers ultimately…

Lakers News: LeBron James Debuts Off-White x Nike Blazer Mid By Virgil Abloh

If there was any questioning the influence LeBron James has, that was answered since his signing a four-year, $153…

Luke Walton On Nick Young Solidifying A Spot In The Lakers Rotation

Prior to the start of training camp, most of the talks surrounding Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young involved either trade rumors or how he could possibly coexist alongside D’Angelo Russell…

Lakers News: LeBron James, Anthony Davis Playing Same Minutes Through Seeding Games

Arguably the only thing the Los Angeles Lakers had to play for in their eight seeding games in the Orlando bubble…