Kobe Bryant Didn’t Pass Ball To Teammates Whose Work Ethic He Didn’t Respect: ‘Why The Fu*k Am I Gonna Pass Them The Basketball?’

The late great Kobe Bryant never sugarcoated things when it came to basketball. The NBA icon always spoke his mind and wasn’t afraid to hurt people’s feelings.

NBA, Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant
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That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Los Angeles Lakers legend had an honest and NSFW response when he was asked by a coach why he didn’t pass the ball to certain teammates.

Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy has worked with some of the best players in NBA history. He won championships with LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lakers and captured one title with Kawhi Leonard on the Toronto Raptors.

However, Bryant may be the most competitive player Handy worked with. Bryant was like Michael Jordan in the sense that he didn’t tolerate foolishness taking place at practice.

If Bryant saw players goofing around and not working hard on their craft, he wouldn’t pass those players the ball during games because he didn’t trust them.

In a 2021 “All The Smoke” episode with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Handy said he once asked Bryant why he was such an a**hole and Bryant gave a simple answer.

“He said, ‘Phil, man, some of my teammates don’t understand the work,’” Handy said. “He said, ‘I see dudes walk into practice 10 minutes before practice, and they leave right after. Why the f— am I gonna pass them the basketball? I don’t respect their work ethic. I’m in here busting my a– every day trying to perfect my craft, and these dudes don’t wanna work on their games. I don’t trust them. So I’m not gonna pass them the basketball.’ I was just like, man, I respect that.”

Bryant was labeled as a ball hog by pundits throughout his career. However, after hearing this story by Handy, it makes perfect sense why Bryant didn’t pass the ball to certain Lakers teammates. He didn’t want to waste a possession by giving the ball to a player who didn’t take the game seriously and work on his game tirelessly as he did.

After the Lakers traded Shaquille O’Neal in the summer of 2004, Bryant was the No. 1 option on offense and had the ball in his hands a lot. However, despite putting up incredible scoring numbers, Bryant didn’t lead the Lakers back to the NBA Finals until 2008 when he got major help in Pau Gasol.

The Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals. However, Bryant finally had a legitimate No. 2 option in Gasol and teammates he could trust in the clutch. As a result, he led the Lakers to back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 over the Orlando Magic and Celtics.

Gasol and Derek Fisher played big roles in both championships, while Metta World Peace hit a clutch 3-pointer in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals with a minute left to give the Lakers a six-point lead off a Bryant pass.

There is zero chance Bryant would have passed the ball to World Peace in that clutch scenario if he didn’t respect his work ethic and dedication to the game. You had to earn Bryant’s trust before you got the ball from him and World Peace had clearly accomplished that.

Bryant averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.5 blocks in 1,346 regular-season games with the Lakers. He tragically passed away in January 2020 in a helicopter crash. 

Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, a five-time champion, a four-time All-Star Game MVP, a two-time Finals MVP, a two-time scoring champion, a 15-time All-NBA Team member, a 12-time All-Defensive Team member and the 2007-08 MVP.

Bryant is fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He scored 33,643 points during his iconic career. 

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