The late Kobe Bryant is considered one of the greatest NBA players ever. Some people also viewed him as a bad teammate. There may have been a reason for this, however. Bryant didn’t grow up like most NBA players; his father was a star player in an Italian basketball league. This helps explain why Bryant is the way he is.
Kobe Bryant’s childhood in Italy
Bryant competed in youth leagues as a child, but he also grew up playing alongside full-grown men in his father’s circle. Like Steph Curry, who played against Vince Carter as a child, this elevated competition may have defined Bryant’s path. He was a relenting presence who never said no.
The “Black Mamba” never shied away from his Italian roots, reports Clutch Points. When the 2011 season was locked out due to stalled conversations between NBA players and owners, Bryant even contemplated taking his talents overseas — where his father played — until things straightened out.
With so much going against him, Bryant never had a normal childhood, and this could explain so much about his life after.
Was Kobe Bryant a good teammate?
Bryant was either a great teammate or a hard one, depending on who you ask. While he had a good relationship with Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Metta World Peace, and several other teammates, the Lakers legend also had a dark side. Bryant could alienate himself, calling out teammates in seemingly childish ways.
The most famous instance involved Shaquille O’Neal. Bryant was always critical of the big man, even as the two won a three-peat in the early part of the new millennium. Bryant did not think O’Neal worked hard enough. The two often clashed behind the scenes about it.
Furthermore, before O’Neal’s last year in Los Angeles, Bryant brought up his teammate’s name while being questioned about rape accusations. The two, along with Phil Jackson, reached a boiling point after a loss in the NBA Finals. This wasn’t the only story of Bryant facing off with teammates.
In 2007, kids caught him on video going on a tirade about why the team should have traded Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd. In 2013, his one-year relationship with Dwight Howard deteriorated; Bryant made Howard feel like a secondary player and Howard believed Bryant was getting too old.
Bryant had a way of pushing people away nearly as much as he brought them together. So how does his childhood explain this?
Does this explain Kobe Bryant’s temperament?
Bryant led a relatively sheltered life until he was a teen. He lived in a foreign country and attended schools where he was never just “one of the kids.” By the time Bryant got to high school, he was a basketball phenom ready to enter the NBA immediately upon graduation. This doesn’t excuse some of his behavior, but it does put things into perspective.
As good as Bryant was, his hotheadedness could be distracting. It’s easy to point fingers and say he shouldn’t have done the things he did, but some may ask if they would’ve been any better. From Bryant’s social awkwardness to his perceived cockiness, all of this tells a tale of someone who was raised to be exactly who he was.
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