Matt Barnes’ story about Kobe Bryant is inspiring and shows the cerebral and selfless side of the Los Angeles Lakers legend.
Right now, there is a lot of talk in the NBA about leadership. Is it necessary to be a ruthless, all-out leader of the pack, like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant? Or is it more positive and encouraging, like Larry Bird or LeBron James?
Matt Barnes rubbed shoulders with Kobe in Los Angeles and the answer is pretty obvious to him, including an anecdote he told while on The Ringer, to go against the individualistic image the late « Black Mamba » had.
« We were on the plane to Spain in the preseason. Everyone was asleep. I don’t know what time it was, but Kobe was there with his headphones on, shaking his head. I thought, well, he must still be rapping, I’m going to go fuck him up and tell him he can’t rap.
I went up to him and saw that he had drawn on a sheet of paper. On it, there were like 30 basketball courts drawn on it. I asked him what he was doing.
He explained to me, ‘I’m drawing diagrams of the triangle offense, so I can guess which spots you’ll be open. I never look at the first defender, always the second defender and the help on the side. So I’m looking to see where I might find Lamar, Ron, you and the others in an open position. »
He had drawn himself from a lot of different angles, with different ways the opposing defense would come and chase him, and how he could ideally give us the ball. When I saw that, I thought it was crazy, but he had a beautiful brain. He was obsessed with not only getting the best out of himself, but the best out of us.
Kobe Bryant was someone who could insult you like nobody’s business, but most of the time he just had to look at you and be a leader by example. He’d get on the floor and save balls and all that stuff.
Sometimes when he saw an opponent was hot, he would tell Ron Artest and me, who were the primary defenders, to get out of the way, because he would defend on him. He was a guy like that.
To me, that’s what makes him ahead of LeBron James. I respect LeBron and his greatness. But Kobe was a killer and if the ship was going to sink, it would be his responsibility. That’s what I wanted to find in a leader. »
Matt Barnes played two years with Kobe Bryant and never shared a locker room