Throughout the bulk of his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant was often viewed as a mercenary who was willing to win at any cost necessary. Bryant’s forceful nature helped guide the Lakers to five NBA championships over two separate eras.
Whether playing alongside Shaquille O’Neal and a slew of veterans, or leading Paul Gasol, Lamar Odom and a talented supporting cast, Bryant put playing above all else. Even when his body called for otherwise, the 15-time All-Star suited up night in and night out.
Bryant often said his summer training left him capable of withstanding the rigors of an NBA season, and his preparation and work ethic were the stuff of legend.
According to Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group, Lakers head coach Luke Walton revealed Bryant would smoke a cigar to put himself in position to play at high altitude in Denver:
On the altitude front, Walton shared this: "Kobe used to smoke cigars and said that was his way of warming up his lungs up the night before when we played in Denver."
— Bill Oram (@billoram) December 3, 2017
Walton sharing the bit of information came prior to his Lakers team taking the floor against the Nuggets in the first game of a back-to-back. The Lakers have been prone to slow starts this season, and that again held true as they fell behind by 12 points in the first quarter.
Although Walton did not provide specifics, it can safely be presumed Bryant lit up at least one cigar when the Lakers and Nuggets met in the playoffs in 2008, 2009 and 2012.
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