This is an excerpt from Finding Mastery #093 with Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton in which he shares his experience playing with Kobe Bryant.
Michael Gervais: Ok how about Kobe, when I say that name what comes up?
Luke Walton: Competitor. I mean the most fierce, great competitor I’ve ever been around, to where I never even knew you could be like that honestly. It was the injuries he could play through, like how he could handle pain. I mean he’d get injured and doctors would say you’re out four to six weeks and he’d say no and go out and play that night. I’ve had some of these like plantar fasciitis, for example. I’ve had that. It is so painful to try to go full speed and cut and change direction…
Michael Gervais: When it feels like your foot is ripping off the bone..
Luke Walton: And I was like okay I get it, shut me down until it’s better. And then he gets it and I’m like well Kobe’s out, I mean he’s got planter fasciitis. I’ve had that, I know what it feels like, he’s out. And sure enough that night he’s sitting there warming up and I’m like, he wants to try to play through it? Sure enough, he plays through it and not only plays through it but he’s not limping. He can get his mind to a place that was so beyond even my understanding that you could live in a place like that every day.
In researching this more and looking back on my own playing days there’s those moments and there’s times that I’ve probably felt similar to how he lives his competitive life.
I’ve got no idea how I got there but there are times you just don’t get tired. Everything’s moving in slow motion, the ball feels great going off your fingers, you feel like you can do whatever you want. And those are you know games you have once a year for me.
He just lived in that place. It was just unbelievable. I remember he’d be the first one in the gym shooting before practice and there was one day I get there and I was getting treatment so I was in early. He comes walking in and I made a joke about “your slacking off.” He looks at me with a grin on his face and he’s like, “Yeah, if you call going to the track for an hour and a half and then getting all my weights done before I showed up today slacking off then yeah I’m fucking slacking off.”
And he’s dead serious, with fire in his eyes and it’s like the middle of a week in the middle of the season. He’s just locked in like that all the time and he wasn’t lying.
He had literally gone to the track, he had a track workout guy. He went to the track at like 5 in the morning, did his sprint work, had gone to the weight room from there with his guy, did a full weight workout, and then was showing up to the practice site around the same time I was.
But I was there to get treatment on something but he was there to start getting shots up before practice on a random whatever day of the week it was and it was just such an amazing thing to be a part of and to witness.
If I didn’t see it every single day for the eight years I was here with him, I don’t think I’d even believe that it was real how locked in he was on the regular.
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