The undying desire to win is something a few athletes commit to and never let go. These athletes put in extra work tirelessly to achieve something they set their sight on. Lakers icon Kobe Bryant was one of the toughest and the most hard-working players you would ever find in the NBA.
Kobe won five championships in his outstanding 20-year career. But the trophyless seasons were not smooth sailing for the Mamba. The Lakers suddenly succumbed to a poor run which acted like a curse on the team. Ever since Kobe and the Lakers got swept by the Spurs in the first round of 2013 playoffs, the Lakers lost their postseason form.
From the subsequent 2013-14 season to the 2018-19 NBA season, the Lakers failed to book a playoff spot. Kobe Bryant did not compete in the playoffs for three straight years until his retirement in 2016. That is the longest playoff drought he had ever endured.
It certainly had to do with the teammates who were around him. In the 2010s, Kobe didn’t have Shaq to combine with on the court. He didn’t link with any of his teammates as spectacularly he did with O’Neal or Pau Gasol. The Lakers invested in young talents which in turn made their team endure a huge slump for a few years.
Back in 2015, Kobe injured his shoulder that kept him out of action for a long time. The major torn rotator cuff needed surgery which meant that Bryant could not even sit on the Lakers’ bench. As mentioned above, the team was enduring a poor run during the season and Kobe being out of action just made it worse.
During his recovery period, Kobe appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where he was shown a clip by Jimmy, hoping to draw a response from the Mamba. As mentioned by Jimmy, the Lakers were on an eight-game losing streak, until they beat the Boston Celtics in overtime.
Jeremy Lin who top-scored for the Lakers with 25 points, was giving his post-game reactions when his teammates Nick Young and Jordan Hill decided to crash the party. The pair was pumped by the Lakers ending their losing streak and celebrated as if they had clinched the conference.
When Kobe Bryant saw this, you can definitely say that it didn’t sit well with him. When Jimmy asked, “Would that happen if you were there?” Kobe put up a stare. His face could say it all. The Mamba never liked anything of it. Here is the video of the event to give you a better insight into Kobe’s reaction to the clip.
Kobe Bryant was never the one to engage in pre-mature celebrations. The Mamba exactly knew if the job was fully completed or if it wasn’t. To give you one such instance of his unparalleled focus towards winning, Kobe’s press conference after the 2009 Finals was stunning.
The Lakers had just gained a 2-0 lead over the Orlando Magic in the BO7 series. An emotionless Mamba gave his post-match press conference which irked the reporters to ask him what was going on. The Lakers were up by 2 games, but Kobe did not have a smile on his face.
“What’s there to be happy about?” Kobe asks when a reporter questions him. “Job’s not finished. Is the job finished? I don’t think so,” Kobe replied, which silenced the reporters.
Contrasting styles of celebrations from the two different instances. The Mamba always had his eyes on the prize and didn’t bother to celebrate until he had reached his goal. Well, he may have come short on certain occasions, but he was the best.