In 2012 Kobe Bryant wrote a Facebook manifesto about his controversial leadership style.
It was basically a defence of his reputation as a “villain” who doesn’t get along with his teammates.
“It’s pushing them to find their inner beast, even if they end up resenting you for it at the time,” he wrote about how he treats his teammates. “I’d rather be perceived as a winner than a good teammate. I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. “
Over the course of his career Kobe has gotten into public feuds with his point guards, scared the daylights out of rookies, and generally regarded his teammates with a healthy level of disdain. When asked to describe Kobe in three words, Steve Nash picked, “M—— f—— a——.”
Kobe is completely aware of his reputation, and has talked openly about the virtues of being an “a——” in interviews.
That’s why it’s such a surprise that the biggest story to come out of Lakers training camp is this: Kobe is being nice to everyone!
Kobe told ESPN:
“My style is a little different with his group. It’s a little more nurturing. They’re so much younger, so it’s a little different. The important thing with this group is learning how to think the game all the way through, which is different than on teams that we have had in the past. We had a lot of veteran guys who had been around. So my teaching style is different.”
His teammates are raving about it.
Lakers center Robert Sacre — who said Kobe didn’t even speak to him for two weeks when he was a rookie — says the team is closer because of Kobe’s new outlook.
“I believe he’s been more helpful during this whole process and the preseason. He’s been really vocal as a leader. In the past, he hasn’t been as vocal. But this year he’s really been trying to communicate and help guys out. This year has made an effort to push guys but at the same time give them advice to make them better.”
Oram reports that Kobe and coach Byron Scott sat down with 1st-round pick Julius Randle and told him he could be an All-Star if he worked hard. After Randle struggled through two preseason games, Kobe threw him a lifeline when he may have criticised a rookie in the past:
Kobe on Julius Randle: “He’s still getting his feet wet. The biggest thing for me is to see him trust his jumpshot.”
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 10, 2014
Byron Scott even made a Kobe-is-old joke when describing how great this kinder Kobe is:
“I think he’s getting soft in his old age. But seriously, he’s been really good with all the guys, to be honest with you. He’s done a heck of a job of taking guys to the side and teaching them little things about the NBA. He’s done the same thing at practice.”
The best line comes from Markazi, who wrote about Kobe’s philosophical change, “His teaching style is different in the sense that he’s actually teaching instead of tormenting.”
The big question is whether Kobe maintains this new style when things start to go downhill this season.
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