Phil Jackson Says Kobe Bryant Trains Harder Than Michael Jordan Did

NBA legend and current New York Knicks president Phil Jackson talked about some of the best players he has ever coached in an interview with the New York Post on Wednesday.

One particularly interesting exchange came when Jackson was asked if Carmelo Anthony should model himself after Kobe Bryant. Jackson said that no one can model themselves after Kobe because Kobe trains harder than anyone, even Michael Jordan.

From the NYP:

Q: Is Kobe Bryant the model for Carmelo Anthony?

A: No. No one can approach that. I don’t expect anybody to be able to model their behaviour after that, although Kobe modelled his behaviour a lot about Michael Jordan, but he went beyond Michael in his attitude towards training, and I know Mike would probably question me saying that, but he did.

The ways in which Kobe replicated Jordan on and off the court are well documented. There’s a nearly two-minute YouTube compilation of Kobe doing the exact same moves Jordan did. In a 2013 interview, Jordan said Kobe would be the only guy who could come close to him in 1-on-1 because “he steals all of my moves.”

Kobe’s notorious competitiveness, though, is too extreme to be a mere imitation of Jordan’s. He’s one of the hardest workers the sport has ever seen. In high school he was getting up at 5 a.m. to practice and forcing his teammates to play him to 100 points in 1-on-1.

In recent years Kobe has devoted himself to staying in impeccable shape in order to prolong his career. He lost 20 pounds in the summer of 2007. Going into the 2012 Olympics, he dropped 16 pounds to prepare himself for a full year of basketball.

This strategy — losing weight as you enter your 30s in order to extend your prime — has influenced the next generation of NBA stars. LeBron James lost “a ton of weight” this summer after going on a 67-day diet. Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade are reportedly slimmer as well. His dedication to fitness has changed the habits of his peers, which is pretty convincing evidence in favour of Jackson’s claim that Kobe is unmatched in his training attitude.

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