Kobe Bryant On Gary Payton: "He Helped Me Become A Great Defensive Player."

Published September 12, 2021 at 11:46 PM

It was 2000, and I was having problems getting over screens when guarding the ball. When the All-Star Game came around, and Gary Payton and I were warming up together, I pulled him aside.

«Gary,» I said, «I'm having trouble getting through screens. What do I do?»

He was a great competitor, but he took the time to walk me through his approach. He told me I had to make myself thin and, I'll never forget this, move my puppies. He explained I had to slide, not run, through the screen and to do so I had to make myself as small as I could and move my feet as quickly as possible. Almost, he explained, like a sheet of paper going through a door.

After the All-Star break, I worked on it constantly in practice. I just kept plugging away. Not coincidentally, that was the first year I made First Team All-Defensive.

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