Kobe Bryant delivered another MVP performance Monday, and like many of his athletic feats, it was something only he could pull off.
But this was no crazy high-flying act or off-balance fall-away jumper as the clock ran down.
No, only a guy like Bryant, with MVP cache could get away with this one.
At the end of the Lakers marathon, three-and-a-half hour practice Monday afternoon, and the Lakers going through what seemed like the 50th conditioning drill of the day, Bryant intervened on his teammates behalf.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson had sent the team on what’s called an “indian run,” where the team runs in a single line around the court and the last person in line has to sprint to the front of the line. When that person gets there, the next person at the end of the line has to sprint to the front of the line until the coach stops the drill.
About four laps in, Bryant took matters into his own hands, sprinting on the inside of the line — by far a shorter distance than outside the line — came to an almost complete stop in front of Derek Fisher at the front of the line and bought his teammates an extra five or ten seconds of rest.
“The veterans taught me that, I’m just passing it on,” Bryant joked afterwards. “Thats just how you do it. Phil (Jackson) teaches us to run together so you have to have a collective effort and one mind so our one mind was to slow the hell down.”
A couple minutes later, Bryant really put the team on his back, sinking a free throw to end the days’ practice.
After playing in Las Vegas Sunday night, one might have assumed Jackson would just run an easy practice Monday. If anything, the opposite was true.
“We’re going to work hard. Thats what training camp is about, getting in shape, getting in condition, it’s not so much about the games,” Bryant said. “I don’t think anybody out here is exhausted or anything.”
Also: Luke Walton (ankle) will likely play in Saturday’s exhibition against the Spanish club FC Barcelona. Walton said that his surgically repaired ankle feels strong and hasn’t bothered him when he makes cuts, but still gets a little sore. He probably could’ve played in Sunday’s game in Las Vegas, but the training staff wanted him to go through a full week of practice first. … Sasha Vujacic (ankle) was limited to light activity and shooting Monday and wasn’t able to practice with the team in full-court activities. … Jackson said that the next roster cuts will likely take place later this week. The Lakers currently have 18 players in camp.