Kobe Bryant recently sat down with Jemele Hill of ESPN for BET’s “Genius Talks” series.
The two discussed a number of topics covering his personal life and career, including his view on failure (“It doesn’t exist, it’s a figment of your imagination”), friends (“Friends come and go, banners hang forever”), on realising he was being an “a******” (“Once I learned that, I think we were able to go to a higher level as a team”), and social media (“When people view it as a branding mechanism then I think it becomes a problem”).
There was one story in particular that illustrated just how hard he can be on his teammates. Kobe was asked what is the worst thing he ever said to a teammate. After hesitating, an audience member asked if he had ever made a teammate cry.
Kobe quickly acknowledged that he had, and then told a story about a young European player he once made cry:
“I have, I have made somebody cry before. There are certain players I have made cry … there’s one teammate that was just so bad. He was so bad. It wasn’t Kwame [Brown]. Kwame actually wasn’t that bad. I tease Kwame a lot. It wasn’t Smush [Parker]. It was a player you guys won’t even remember if I said what his name was. I can’t even pronounce his name. It was like some European kid. I don’t know. But he was really, really bad. I said, ‘You know, dude, you might want to reconsider what your life purpose is. Maybe it’s not this.’ I was like twenty-something. I don’t know, I was really young.”
If you want to play amateur detective, there were only two players who played on the Lakers when Kobe was in his teens or 20s who were European, did not have success with the team, and had names some might consider hard to pronounce. One was Sasha Vujacic. He was with the Lakers until 2011 and in the NBA as recently as 2014, so it seems unrealistic that Kobe would struggle with his name. The other is Stanislav Medvedenko, who joined the Lakers as a 21-year-old in 2000 when Kobe was 22 and played in just seven games his rookie year and only started more than ten games in a season once in his seven-year career.
Bryant did acknowledge in the interview that he quickly realised that his comment sounded much worse out loud than he was expecting, saying, “That is not how I envisioned that coming out.”
You can see the entire interview here. The comments on making a teammate cry can be heard at the 20:25 mark.
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