The 2014-15 Los Angeles Lakers were among the worst teams in franchise history, winning just 21 games that season as Kobe Bryant was limited to playing less than half the season due to injury and the rest of the roster struggled mightily.
That also happened to be Jeremy Lin’s lone season in Los Angeles, and even though Kobe was hurt and not around the team for a good portion of the season, he did make sure his presence was felt. Lin joined Danny Green on the “Inside the Green Room” podcast this week and recalled Kobe showing up to practice the day before the trade deadline to the surprise of his teammates, and when prompted on why he was there, he offered an extremely Kobe answer.
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“He comes in, sweatsuit [on], he has a sling around for his hurt shoulder, he has his shades on, his Kobe shades,” Lin recalls. “And he walks in and everyone’s like, ‘Ohhhh’ and Booz, Carlos Boozer, is like ‘Kob! Good to see you bro! Dang, we haven’t seen you in a bit, how come you came today?’ And he was just stone-faced, and he was like, ‘I just came by to say bye to some of you bums who are going to get traded tomorrow.’ [laughs] And then he sits down at the table where you control the scoreboard at the practice facility and he said a couple words to the coach, and then he left. And I remember one of my teammates was just like ‘I lost all motivation to practice.’”
It is extremely on brand for Kobe, and is especially topical right now as we all just watched an episode of The Last Dance where they dove into Michael Jordan’s penchant for belittling teammates in practice. Kobe, of course, modeled so much of his game and mentality after Mike and picked up the mantle of being the most demanding star in the league when it came to how he treated and handled his teammates.
It’s a tactic that can only work for a select few that have such unimpeachable work ethic and the skill to match that their teammates can’t ever really fire back at them for being hypocritical with their demands — which is often lost in the deification of both — but it’s clear that, at least now, Lin can look back and laugh at the moment. It also could’ve just been Kobe cracking back at a question of why he was finally popping in to visit the team with a witty comeback, but somewhere in there was at least a little bit of seriousness from Kobe in calling them bums — although the funniest part of the story might be that the Lakers didn’t even make a trade that year,.