This is a story of one of the greatest athletes of all time. Everyone see’s the fame & fortune but rarely do they see the work that gets put in. The hours upon hours of blood, sweat, and tears that go into becoming the best in the world usually gets overlooked. They say things like ‘they are just born to be great’ or ‘they were naturally talented’ to justify the success of others. When looking to be the best, we must look on to the best and see what they did before the fame – we must look at the struggle. When we look at the climb to success that the best of the best had to endure, we learn how we can put ourselves on the same path. Every success story comes with struggle. Every master was once and is always a student. What separates the masters from the students is the dedication to their craft, even after they have already made it – even when they are already the best. Told by an athletic trainer that worked with him, this story shows why Kobe Bryant is one of history’s greatest basketball players.
“I’ve been a professional athletic trainer for about 16 years and have been able to work with a range of athletes from the high school to professional level. Right now I run in a clinic in Cincinnati and have most recently been training with some players on the Bengals.
Let me just state by saying that this story doesn’t touch on anything we don’t know about Kobe but rather that he simply is not human when he is working on his craft.
I was invited to Las Vegas two summers ago to help Team USA with their conditioning before they head off to London, and as we know they would eventually bring home the Gold. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade in the past but this would be my first interaction with Kobe. We first met three days before the first scrimmage, on the day of the first practice, early July. It was a brief conversation where we talked about conditioning, where he would like to be by the end of the summer, and we talked a little bit about the hustle of the Select Team. Then he got my number and I let him know that if he ever wanted some extra training he could hit me up any time.
The night before the first scrimmage I remember I had just watched “Casablanca” for the first time and it was about 3:30 AM. I lay in bed, slowly fading away when I hear my cell ring. It was Kobe. I nervously picked up.
“Hey, uhh Rob, I hope I’m not disturbing anything right?”
“Uhh no, what’s up Kob?”
“Just wondering if you could just help me out with some conditioning work, that’s all.”
I checked my clock. 4:15 AM.
“Yeah sure, I’ll see you in the facility in a bit.”
It took me about twenty minutes to get my gear and out of the hotel. When I arrived and opened the room to the main practice floor I saw Kobe. Alone. He was drenched in sweat as if he had just taken a swim. It wasn’t even 5AM.
We did some conditioning work for the next hour and fifteen minutes. Then we entered the weight room, where he would do a multitude of strength training exercises for the next 45 minutes. After that we parted ways and he went back to the practice floor to shoot. I went back to the hotel and crashed. Wow.
I was expected to be at the floor again at about 11 AM. I woke up feeling sleepy, drowsy, and almost pretty much every side effect of sleep deprivation. Thanks, Kobe. I had a bagel and headed to the practice facility.
This next part I remember very vividly. All the Team USA players were there, feeling good for the first scrimmage. LeBron was talking to Carmelo if I remember correctly and Coach Krzyzewski was trying to explain something to Kevin Durant. On the right side of the practice facility was Kobe by himself shooting jumpers. And this is how our next conversation went — I went over to him, patted him on the back and said, “Good work this morning.”
“Like, the conditioning. Good work.”
“Oh. Yeah, thanks Rob. I really appreciate it.”
“So when did you finish?”
“Getting your shots up. What time did you leave the facility?”
“Oh just now. I wanted 800 makes so yeah, just now.”
My jaw dropped. It was then that I realized that there’s no surprise to why he’s been as effective as he was last season. Every story about his dedication, every quote that he’s said about hard work all came together and hit me like a train. It’s no surprise to me now that he’s dunking on players ten years younger than him.”