Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, revealed a trick that his teams performed over the course of his career.
In a resurfaced interview held by the Wall Street Journal in October, Bryant divulged the plan. Whenever Bryant’s teams played against other squads with players who signed maximum contracts and players up for free agency, they would double-team the soon-to-be free agent.
“When we play them during the season, we’re saying, “Okay, this is what we are going to do.’ We’re going to double-team the guy that hasn't gotten the max contract yet. We’re not going to let him get a shot off. Then we’re going to single cover the guy that has the max contract. And then watch the guy that doesn't have the max contract bitch and complain about not getting the ball all night long. And just watch them divide each other.”
In the NBA, the players with maximum contracts are usually the best on the court, so they will attract double-teams. On the other hand, for the players who want those types of contracts, they’ll be a defense’s top focus once they sign it.
In a way, Bryant’s teams wanted to see how players who wanted max contracts handled the pressure of one day being a team’s top player. When the player cannot handle it, his teammates will avoid passing him the ball. The soon-to-be free agent will then start to get frustrated and complain to his teammates.
As a result, the team will start arguing among themselves and self-destruct. This plan actually makes sense. The goal is to ruin the cohesion of the team. However, who knows if that plan worked most of the time?
Remember that there are five players on the court. What if the role players stepped up and played well that night? Two players cannot win a game by themselves. It is a team effort.
Over the course of his 20-year career in Los Angeles, Bryant made teams pay with his physical talents. However, this goes to show you that he was an intelligent basketball player as well.