Lakers fans most admire Kobe Bryant's work ethic
Resigned to little more than three hours of sleep per night, Kobe Bryant spends plenty of those waking hours watching tape.
Eager to maximize the health on his ailing body, Bryant sits on the trainers table at all hours of the day, receiving any necessary treatment.
Hoping to find some competitive advantage no matter how small, Bryant finds various nuances to perfect so he remains dominant.
The lasting images of Bryant's legacy, whenever it's fully cemented, provides a never-ending highlight reel. It could feature Bryant's career-high 81-point performance five years ago when he made an array of difficult shots. It could feature his beautiful on-court play, with his countless game winners, sharp basketball intelligence and graceful footwork appearing all too easy. And, of course, with the way Bryant and many measure his own success, it could point to his five NBA championships.
But the lasting image for me features different moments. The way he grinded through injuries. How he fought through fatigue. His want to adjust his game to become a complete player. Bryant isn't just immensely talented at playing basketball. He's maximized that talent and his own longevity simply through uncompromising hard work.
“I’ve always been comfortable as a kid growing up to think that when my career is over, I want them to think of me as an overachiever despite the talent that I have,” Bryant once told Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears. “To think of me as a person that’s overachieved, that would mean a lot to me. That means I put a lot of work in and squeezed every ounce of juice out of this orange that I could."
Bryant has three years remaining on his $83.5-million contract so he's not going to reflect on his career just yet. But on the heels of his 33rd birthday this week, the results of a Lakers blog poll reveal that the 29.1% plurality of voters remain most impressed with Bryant's work ethic.
This isn't so much a revelation. Bryant's competitive spirit, after all, is well established. But it clearly validates that whatever natural talent contributed to his five rings, two Finals MVPS, one regular-season MVP, a sixth-place standing on the NBA's all-time scoring list and becoming the Lakers' all-time leading scorer, Bryant's work ethic played a larger role in cementing that resume.
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Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant smiles near the end of the Lakers' 103-88 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday. Credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images