Kobe Bryant was a fierce competitor, both on and off the court. The man would do whatever needed to get a competitive edge. From his crazy work ethic to constant mind games with opponents, Kobe brought a different mindset to the game.
So, what would Kobe do if he had to be teammates with someone that just eliminated him from the Playoffs? Well, you try to destabilize that team internally.
Adrian Wojnarowski revealed what Kobe said to Russell Westbrook at the 2012 Olympics. This was a few months after Russ’s OKC eliminated the Lakers in the Playoffs.
At 2012 Olympics, @kobebryant told @russwest44 not to defer to @kdtrey5 with Thunder https://t.co/6wdqD0yxEx
— MSN Sports (@MSNSports) October 8, 2020
“In 2012, what I remember with Kobe was he spent a lot of the – or he spent some of that – Olympics with Russell Westbrook telling Russ, ‘You know, you should be winning scoring titles. I don’t know why you’re letting Kevin win scoring titles. You should be the one winning them.’ Anything he could do to plant a little seed of dissent with two teammates, it was pretty funny.”
Kobe trying to create internal strife between two teammates is so devious, most players don’t even think that far ahead. However, planting the seeds of dissent was just something the Mamba had to do to ensure his Lakers have a slight edge over the rising OKC Thunder in 2012.
Kobe Bryant and his mind games
Kobe truly emulated Michael Jordan in the sense that he will tell you what he will do on the court before doing it. Kobe’s game had so much class to it that he was almost unstoppable. You don’t get five NBA rings by being an average player. Kobe was as good as he was because his mind was built in a way to ensure that he can outfox his opponents.
Westbrook and KD were still young when Kobe did this in 2012. However, it further goes to prove that you cannot trust anyone in basketball. Moreover, why would you trust a man with the nickname ‘Black Mamba’ to give you advice? The name is literally a reference to a snake.
Over time, we saw that KD proved to definitely be the better scorer between him and Westbrook. Maybe even Kobe knew that, but giving Russ that confidence in himself was crucial to destabilizing the Rudd-KD relationship. In 2017, we saw the duo’s relationship end. However, it happened a year after Kobe retired, so he didn’t reap the fruits he sowed.