Kobe Bryant idolized Michael Jordan and it showed in the way he mimicked the Chicago Bulls legend’s game. But according to his former LA Lakers teammate, Robert Horry, a rookie Kobe wanted to emulate the footwork of Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon.
Horry appeared on a special episode of ESPN’s “The Jump” which was celebrating Kobe Bryant’s life on the first year anniversary of his untimely death. As Horry was telling his stories to host Rachel Nichols, he told one about his first one-on-one practice session with the rookie.
“The first thing out of his mouth was ‘tell me about Dream’s (Olajuwon’s) footwork,’” Horry said. “I’m like, ‘I’m doing all right. Thanks for asking,’ you know, but it was just that. He wanted to get better. He wanted to learn from the guy that had the best footwork in the game and that’s just who he was.”
Horry’s story is one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of Kobe Bryant anecdotes that talk about the LA Lakers legend’s work ethic and desire to get better. But it’s interesting to know that even as a rookie, Bryant was carefully studying Olajuwon’s signature move, the Dream Shake.
NBA News: Kobe Bryant met Hakeem Olajuwon in the summer to learn his post moves
The Kobe Bryant and Hakeem Olajuwon connection doesn’t end with that story from Robert Horry. In the summer of 2009, Bryant contacted a retired Olajuwon to work out with him and learn the Hall of Famer’s post moves.
“I was surprised and impressed when he called me up that he wanted to come and work out.” Olajuwon said during an interview in 2011. “I said, ‘Kobe, you have all the moves already, you don’t need me!’ He said ‘No, I want to master the post, and I love your game.’ He gave me huge compliments (like that).”
Though he is often compared to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant had often stated that he studied the moves of various NBA luminaries and incorporated them into his game and Olajuwon is just one of them.
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Bryant, a former scoring champ, adding to his arsenal of moves seemed too unfair but that is what separated him from the other standout players of his generation. The following season, Kobe Bryant led the LA Lakers to a second straight title, cementing his place among the greatest winners in the NBA.
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