Kobe Bryant trained Gordon Hayward summer before his first All-Star selection
Boston Celtics small forward Gordon Hayward says he trained with Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant during the summer of 2016, just a few months after Bryant dropped 60 points against Hayward and the Utah Jazz in his final NBA game.
Hayward didn’t know Bryant that well, so he asked Jazz head coach Quin Snyder — a former Lakers assistant — to help him get in touch with Bryant.
Via Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:
“I don’t know why I didn’t think he [Bryant] would say yes, but when I asked him, I wasn’t banking on him accepting and being willing to train me,” Hayward said of Bryant. “I knew he was really busy and just figured he had other things he’d rather do.
“I was just struck by kind of the simplicity of all the stuff he did. It wasn’t anything crazy. it was a lot of work, but it was a lot of simple stuff. There were no crazy drills or dribbling or anything really complicated. He was into the simple stuff, but he was into doing it over and over and over again.
“It was like we were game-planning. We talked about how the Clippers defended things, how he thought I could attack and what I could’ve done to make the game a little easier. That was all very helpful, but more than anything, just talking to him gave me confidence.”
Hayward averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists after training with Bryant. He led the Jazz to the second round of the playoffs and made his first All-Star team.
So many players who have worked with Bryant have gone on to do special things. Giannis Antetokounmpo won an MVP award, Kyrie Irving hit one of the biggest shots in NBA Finals history and won a title with LeBron James and Hayward bounced back from his foot injury.
Kobe Bryant is going to be missed by everyone, but his spirit and life lessons will always be with us.