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 (USA). 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. Mother of holy God. 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.
Thanks for reading and allowing me to share you my Kobe Bryant story.