A Teenage Kobe Bryant Had ‘Tunnel Vision’ When Playing With Pros, According to Jerry Stackhouse: ‘Man, You Gotta Pass the Ball!’

Throughout Kobe Bryant‘s illustrious career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he dealt with the stigma of being labeled as a selfish player. Much of which came from his reluctance to pass the ball at times, leading to heavy criticism whenever his team fell short. Former All-Star forward Jerry Stackhouse recounted a story that revealed that internal struggle existed for Bryant before entering the league.

Kobe Bryant’s illustrious NBA career

Bryant entered the NBA with lofty aspirations toward reaching greatness.

It didn’t take long for him to venture into that trajectory as he put together an incredible 20-year career that established him as one of the game’s greats players. He earned five NBA titles and two NBA Finals MVP awards, won a regular-season MVP award, received 15 All-NBA Team selections and 12 NBA All-Defensive Team nods, and his two jersey numbers retired with the Lakers.

Before Bryant graced the NBA hardwood, it quickly became evident that he would have an issue with passing the ball.

A teenage Kobe Bryant had ‘tunnel vision’ when playing with pros, according to Jerry Stackhouse: ‘Man, you gotta pass the ball!’

Before Bryant entered the league, he quickly garnered much praise for his promising talent despite only being a high school player.

The Lower Merion product showcased his ability to hold his own against NBA players. During an appearance on The Woj Pod, former longtime forward Jerry Stackhouse recounted a story about a 17-year-old Bryant, who wasn’t a big proponent for passing during a scrimmage between professional athletes and Philadelphia college stars.

“What happened with Kobe was nobody really wanted to play with Kobe,” said. “[Former La Salle star and NBA player] Lionel Simmons, you used to always see him pulling Kobe to the side, like, ‘Man, you gotta pass the ball! You gotta learn how to do this!’ Because the older guys were from Philly.

“These stories kind of take on a life of their own. And yes, Kobe had some good days scoring the ball, because he could handle it so well. But he had tunnel vision at that point. You had pickup games, sometimes he didn’t even get picked up.”

Bryant’s reluctance to pass the ball was something that was already ingrained in him well before he became an NBA player. His immense talent helped brush much of that criticism aside, but there came the point where he had to learn to trust his teammates to lift himself to championship success.

It was an aspect of the game that he battled through in some stretches of his career. However, when he had the right teammates around him, he embraced that approach more.

NBA legacy left an everlasting impact

Bryant‘s career took an intriguing path, but his talent always shined through.

The Lakers star’s greatness lifted Los Angeles to sustained success while elevating him to recognition as an iconic player. He garnered tremendous respect from his peers while his play and Mamba Mentality inspired his colleagues and generations of NBA talent that followed him.

Bryant accomplished it all while his impact went far beyond any basketball court. His approach to his craft became adaptable to any walk of life. He certainly had his issues at times with trusting his teammates and passing, while he wasn’t the easiest teammate to play along with at certain junctures of his career.

However, all that didn’t take any shine away from his legacy and His influence on the game is forever felt.

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