When you ask the question of which present-day NBA player has the greatest work ethic, you get one answer above the rest.
Kobe Bean Bryant.
Not to discredit any of the league’s other athletes, but I’ve never seen a player have such a strong devotion to basketball like Kobe Bryant. This, as evidenced by this blog, is to the point of being fascinating.
So what better to do than compile of list of the best of Bryant’s dedication to hoops? I give you The Mamba List.
Since Kobe is closing in on his 12th year in the Association now, there may be some noticeable omissions.
First, we start off with a quote I personally gathered from former teammate Caron Butler on Kobe’s off-season workouts:
Mamba List Entry #1:
The 666 Routine When:
Whenever Kobe has free time.
Caron Butler: He gets up, he does the sprints in the morning. He also does the weight training, then he does the agility work. He also does 1,000 makes, which you make 1,000 shots. Not shoot 1,000– make 1,000. That’s anywhere from 3,500 shots to 3,000 shots going up a day, so that’s a lot of shots. Source: BDG’s SPL Exclusive
This would have easily made the list if Kobe just went into the gym and jacked up a kilo of jumpers. But Bryant makes sure those thousand all get through the net. All that before heading over to pump iron and run sprints. I’m assuming Kobe has a ball boy help out here. And/or someone to keep count. If not, more props out to the Mamba for chasing down loose balls . . . and being excellent at counting numbers.
Next, let’s move on to recent events. After a Sunday game where his shot wasn’t falling, Kobe took matters into his own hands:
Mamba List Entry #2:
10:30 PM Shootaround When:
The night of March 18th, 2008
The Lakers were loose and laughing, perhaps knowing they had put forth a decent day of practice Monday and invested some quality time a few hours after their 104-92 loss Sunday afternoon in Houston. Not long after the Lakers’ charter flight landed Sunday night in Dallas, five players headed over to the arena for a late-night shooting expedition.
Kobe Bryant made a quick delivery on a promise to work on his shot because it was too “flat,” an admonition he made after a woeful 11-for-33 shooting effort against Houston. He scored 24 points against the Rockets.
“I’ve got to get more arc on the ball,” he said. “For me, it’s just making little tweaks here and there, sharpening up the stroke. Once you get your reps in, it kind of puts it back into your memory bank.”
Bryant was joined Sunday night by Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic and Derek Fisher. They were there for 90 minutes, until about 10:30 p.m.
Bryant couldn’t remember the last time he shot after a game.
“I don’t know. I just felt like shooting and they wanted to come along,” he said. Source: LA Times
So you just lost a game on national TV in the middle of a tough four-game road trip. By your own admission, it was one of your weaker shooting performances. So you just shake it off right? Not if you’re Mamba. Getting in an extra shoot-around on a tough road trip is pretty hardcore in itself. But Bryant brought along his teammates. It paid off too, as the Lakers held large leads over the Mavericks and Jazz to close out the road trip with two crucial victories.
In the last entry for this opening collection, The Black Mamba gets his Discovery Channel on:
Mamba List Entry #3:
Deep-Sea Dedication When:
Sometime in 2007, over the ocean.
More than a year ago, at a press event to debut the then-latest version of his signature Nike shoe, the Zoom Kobe II, Bryant told a story about being so enamored with Orca Whales after reading about their pack-hunting mentality, he wanted his Lakers to attack their opponents in the same way on the basketball court. So captivated was he by the thought, he took a helicopter ride out over the Pacific Ocean to observe the whales and their tendencies first-hand in order to report back to his teammates. Nothing is half-assed. Source: Dime Magazine
I’ll admit, it was this excerpt that inspired me to create this list. When I first read it, I thought: “That’s some Mamba stuff right there.” This falls into the category of living and breathing basketball. For now at least, this is the List’s golden moment. Let’s really think about this though. I have a challenge for you. Name another baller that studied whales to improve his game. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. No disrespect, but I don’t see Vince Carter hanging out with gazelles to improve his footwork. Baron Davis never has observed a crow defend its nest and learn how to D-up. This is the stuff Mamba is made of. The fact that Kobe incorporated nature into his game is unheard of.
That will do it for the first edition of The Mamba List. Additions will be made as Mamba continues to look for ways to improve at basketball.
If you have any suggestions or specific instances to include on The Mamba List, e-mail me. You will get shout-out credit for your submissions.