Kobe Bryant told his teammates that he was going to cross up Ben Wallace and dunk on him and according to Nick van Exel, it’s what he did.
If there was one player in the history of the league who had the gall to enter the league straight out of high school and shoot 4 straight airballs in the Playoffs in his rookie season, it was Kobe Bryant. Sure, this may seem like an extremely specific scenario because this is exactly what he did, but it goes to show how confident Bean was even as a teenager.
With confidence however, must come work ethic; and Kobe Bryant was certainly no slouch in the gym. There have been countless stories told about Kobe training at odd hours during the day, bicycling in extreme heat, calling up Michael Jordan past midnight and so on and so forth.
Jordan’s trainer, Tim Grover, even said that the difference between Michael and Kobe Bryant was that the former knew when to stop whereas the latter did not. While appearing on the Knuckleheads podcast, Nick Van Exel talked about Kobe’s relentless work ethic and one of his most iconic posters.
Nick van Exel talks about Kobe Bryant and his dunk on Ben Wallace.
Nick van Exel was a part of a 4-man squad that made the All-Star Game while all on the same team. Kobe Bryant, Eddie Jones, Shaquille O’Neal, and Nick the Quick all represented the Los Angeles Lakers at the ASG in 1998.
When talking about this season, Van Exel recounted how during the 1997 preseason, Kobe told his teammates that he was going to cross up Ben Wallace and dunk on him. Sure enough, he did just that and it resulted in this being one of the most iconic posters he’s ever had in his 20-year storied career.
Nick also told Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson that, as we all know, Kobe Bryant was a hard worker. He would do everything from challenging his teammates to 2-on-1s to relentlessly going at the veterans during practice sessions.
Recounts like these are always ones that further prove how intense Kobe has been ever since he was a 17-year-old kid who had to have his parents sign his first NBA contract along with him.