‘Wake-Up Call’ – Jordan Clarkson Recalls Kobe Bryant Yelling at Young Lakers Team During Final Season

Published 04/20/2021, 3:30 PM EDT
Jan 21 2009: Kobe Bryant during the 108-97 Los Angeles Lakers victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by Darryl Dennis/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)


Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest leaders in NBA history. The Los Angeles Lakers legend was in the NBA for nearly 20 years but played with a seasoned veteran mentality since the start. Bryant received critical acclaim for his mentality and focus. Furthermore, his mental acumen and discipline allowed him to find great success, winning five NBA championships across his legendary career.

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Jordan Clarkson talks Kobe Bryant

Kobe was always ready to speak his mind when his teammates weren’t carrying their share of the load. Utah Jazz’s guard Jordan Clarkson discussed a host of topics in a new interview, and he even spoke about his time with the Los Angeles Lakers and sitting under the learning tree of Kobe Bryant. Clarkson recalled how Kobe once lambasted the entire Lakers squad for not taking the game seriously in his final season. But rather than being demoralized, the team took it as a wake-up call.

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Clarkson said, “I remember him just really getting upset. You’ve seen him come out of his skin and grill us a little bit. But from that point on, I felt all of us had a different look at everything with what we wanted to do. That’s probably, in terms of development, a little wake-up call.” 

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) during the second quarter in game 6 of the first round of the NBA playoffs Thursday, May 10, 2012, at Pepsi Center in Denver Colorado. Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post (Photo By Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
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Clarkson’s story reflects Kobe’s unwavering passion for the game. Even in his final season, where the Lakers were not in contention for any titles or accolades, he still demanded the best from his teammates. Regardless of what year, his age, or the standings, Kobe demanded that his teammates always put their best foot forward, because that is exactly what he did. Bryant was the consummate professional, who wanted to win at all costs.

Kobe and his winning mentality

His winning mentality paid dividends throughout Bryant’s career. Kobe entered the NBA in 1996 and immediately hit the ground running. He became an All-Star in just his second NBA season. In 1999, Kobe got to work under legendary head coach Phil Jackson.

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Jerry West, GM, Kobe Bryant and Head Coach Del Harris (Photo by Steve Grayson/WireImage)

Bryant went on to win three consecutive NBA titles with Jackson, as Jackson used Kobe very similar to Michael Jordan. And then in 2009 and 2010, Kobe added two more championships to his resume, going back-to-back for the second time in his career.

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However, the last few years of his career were marred by poor decision making and team building by the Lakers, and a major injury that derailed his momentum. However, Kobe was able to retire as one of the all-time greats of the NBA.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1204 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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