When Kobe Bryant discussed Gary Payton during a pre-All Star Game interview and how his advice helped him tremendously on the defensive end
Kobe Bryant is unanimously regarded as one of the greatest scorers of all time. His insane performances including the 81-point game against the Raptors are a testament to this fact.
What separated him from his competition, however, was his tenacious defense. Not only did Kobe work on gaining physical strength, but he was also always receptive to advice regarding enhancing his skill. And who better to learn the tricks of the trade from than former DPOY Gary Payton himself.
Gary ‘The Glove’ Payton, is regarded as one of the GOAT guard defenders to ever play the game. Along with Shawn Kemp, the Seattle Supersonics duo had dominated the West in the latter half of the 90s. Gary averaged close to 3 steals a game during his prime while avoiding too many fouls.
Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett had also previously talked about Gary Payton’s influence. He said how Gary had taught him and Kobe some tricks to avoid the referee’s eye while reaching for the ball. It was not a coincidence that both disciples went on to become feared defensive presences.
Gary Payton had advised Kobe Bryant to start moving his ‘puppies’ more
Mobile legs make the defender a constant threat on-ball as well off of it, and Gary Payton was a master of the craft. And he didn’t hesitate to pass on the baton to someone he called his little brother.
Kobe mentioned in the video how Payton’s advice had been instrumental in him reaching another level. The 5-time champ was a part of an extraordinary 12 All-Defensive teams during his career despite carrying a huge offensive load throughout.
“He helped me become a great defensive player. He told me one thing, he said ‘Kobe, you gotta move your puppies’. After he told me that, everything clicked for me, I started making All-Defensive teams.”
– Kobe Bryant on Gary Payton pic.twitter.com/nkmePWCWzF
— Basketball Forever (@Bballforeverfb) September 13, 2021
The incident reflects how willingness to always keep learning your trade is essential for greatness. Qualities like these are what made Kobe a true student of the game. His humility off the court was as important as his arrogance on the court.