Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy has gotten a chance to work with some of the best players in NBA history.
He currently works with LeBron James, but also spent time with Kobe Bryant during his first stint as a trainer for the Lakers. Bryant has credited Handy in the past for improving his game but the two got off to a rocky start.
In an appearance on the “All The Smoke” podcast, Handy explained how he and Bryant developed a relationship after a mishap:
“I just did my job. I got to the gym early, found the floor and did my work with the players I was working with and there was a couple days where Kob’ would come out, he come out of the training room, he sit on a chair and watch. He’d watch me and he’d go back in the room. Nothing was said of it.
“And didn’t really develop a relationship with him until a couple weeks later when he finally he hit me one day on text and was like, ‘Yo man, just meet me at the gym.’ I told this story a few times, but he was, ‘Meet me at the gym’ and I was like, ‘Alright bet, let’s go.’ And so I showed up at the gym that night and he was like, ‘Meet me at the gym at 5:45′ and you know what that means. I showed up that night thinking we was gon’ work waiting for this dude but he was not there. So I was like, ‘Okay, so this is what we on?’ I ain’t say nothin’, I went to practice the next morning. Showed up early, 7:30 practice is at 10:00. That man came out giving me hell. ‘Hey bruh, what the -expletive’ you doin’ you ain’t showin’ up for work?’ I was like, ‘Man, I was here!’ ‘No man, not 5:45 p.m., I meant this morning.’
“And after that the relationship started and the first question I asked him was ‘Man, what can I help you with?’ I’m looking at this dude like, ‘I’m here to learn from you.’ He was just like, ‘Man, I wanna get better with my ball handling. I wanna get better with my ball handling, sprinkle some stuff into my footwork. And that was just how it started, gave him some things on the ball handling and he was the type of dude that was like, ‘Look, I’m gonna take what I need and leave the rest.’ And he told me exactly what he wanted and at that point it was up to me to put it together and help him as best I could. But that was the ultimate challenge for me.”
Bryant was known for his maniacal workouts and Handy’s story is right in line with previous ones that have been told. Even though current NBA stars work hard, there truly will never be another player like Bryant.
Caruso credits Handy for his development
Aside from the stars, Handy also works with the role players on the Lakers roster and Alex Caruso credited him for his overall development.
“The stuff he teaches us if stuff I hadn’t learned from anybody else,” Caruso said. “Just ways to set up ball screens, different skill development drills. I just enjoy being around him.
“That’s one of those things that really make it a great job is we do a great job of the front office here is we put together a team of high-character guys, high-character coaches. Support staff that are important to the players, important to the team. It just makes it easy when you show up and guys have energy or people like Phil have your best interest in mind.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!