Kobe Bryant has officially announced his retirement from the NBA.

It has long been known that Kobe Bryant is one of the hardest worker athletes in history, and here, in some rare insight, we hear from his fellow players & coaches of his incredible work ethic.

If this doesn’t motivate you to work harder, thenI don’t know what will!

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1. The Legendary USA Olympics Training Story from Robert, a USA Olympics trainer

The night before the first scrimmage I remember I was just watched “Casablanca” for the first time and it was about 3:30 AM. I lay in bed, slowly fading away when I hear my cell ring. It was Kobe. I nervously picked up.

“Hey, uhh Rob, I hope I’m not disturbing anything right?”

“Uhh no, what’s up Kob?”

“Just wondering if you could just help me out with some conditioning work, that’s all.”

I checked my clock. 4:15 AM.

“Yeah sure, I’ll see you in the facility in a bit.”

It took me about twenty minutes to get my gear and out of the hotel. When I arrived and opened the room to the main practice floor I saw Kobe. Alone. He was drenched in sweat as if he had just taken a swim. It wasn’t even 5AM.

We did some conditioning work for the next hour and fifteen minutes. Then we entered the weight room, where he would do a multitude of strength training exercises for the next 45 minutes. After that we parted ways and he went back to the practice floor to shoot. I went back to the hotel and crashed. Wow.

I was expected to be at the floor again at about 11 AM. I woke up feeling sleepy, drowsy, and almost pretty much every side effect of sleep deprivation. Thanks, Kobe. I had a bagel and headed to the practice facility.

This next part I remember very vividly. All the Team USA players were there, feeling good for the first scrimmage. LeBron was talking to Carmelo if I remember correctly and Coach Krzyzewski was trying to explain something to Kevin Durant. On the right side of the practice facility was Kobe by himself shooting jumpers. And this is how our next conversation went — I went over to him, patted him on the back and said, “Good work this morning.”

“Huh?”

“Like, the conditioning. Good work.”

“Oh. Yeah, thanks Rob. I really appreciate it.”

“So when did you finish?”

“Finish what?”

“Getting your shots up. What time did you leave the facility?”

“Oh just now. I wanted 800 makes so yeah, just now.”

My jaw dropped. Mother of holy God. It was then that I realized that there’s no surprise to why he’s been as effective as he was last season. Every story about his dedication, every quote that he’s said about hard work all came together and hit me like a train. It’s no surprise to me now that he’s dunking on players ten years younger than him and it wasn’t a surprise to me earlier this year when he led the league in scoring.

2. Kobe Bryant and the 40-Mile Bike Ride

Interesting tidbit from an article on the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne:

Blake Griffin needs to know if the story is true. Ever since he first heard it last July, he’s been obsessed with it.

“The first night we all got into Las Vegas last summer for the USA Basketball camp, I heard Kobe went on some 40-mile bike ride at night through the desert,” Griffin says. “Forty miles? At night? You think it’s true?”

Before I can answer, Griffin continues:

“When I found out about that bike ride, I was so tempted to ask him if I could go next time.”

This is my favorite part about Kobe: you assume this story is true. Forty miles in the desert? You don’t even question it.

…in this moment, all Griffin wants to talk about is whether or not Kobe Bryant really got on a bike and rode 40 miles through the desert last July.

“I love that stuff,” Griffin says. “I love all those stories.”

The story Griffin heard turns out to be true. And it goes something like this: Bryant told his longtime trainer, Tim Grover, that he wanted to add in bike training to his summer conditioning. Grover researched a trail in Las Vegas, rented three bikes — one for Bryant, one for himself and one for Bryant’s security guard — and on the night before the first day of practice, they each put on headlamps and headed out to the trail and rode.

“We finished up around 2 a.m.” Grover said. “And we were back in the gym working out by 7:30 in the morning.”

And that’s just it. To Blake Griffin, and most of the NBA, these are just stories.

To Kobe Bryant, that’s a Tuesday night.

3. Carlos Boozer’s Reflections from the 2008 Olympics

“You know what it was for me? And me and him are good friends, but I hadn’t really trained with him — is how hard he works. We saw his dedication to the game. He would get in the gym, lift weights, he would go over to the gym, get shots up before practice, go through the whole practice, and that was his routine every day.

“He’s not great by accident is my point. He puts the work in. And I think what I learned about Kobe is he’s so hungry to be good, he puts the work in. I just think his hunger and his determination is what I was most impressed with.”

4. Jim Boeheim’s Thoughts from 2008 Olympics

“Kobe, from day one, is just the hardest-working player I’ve ever been around. He just does an unbelievable job. He came in, he worked out before practice and practiced harder than anybody and then worked out afterwards and continued the whole trip. The first trip we are qualifying and then the Olympics themselves.

“He’s just an unbelievable competitor and in practice goes 100 percent every day in practice and that brings everybody else up to that same level. He was a huge part of us being ready in the Olympics to be able to win. Of course, when we needed a big shot, he made a big shot against Spain.”

5. Gary Payton Recounts his Memories of Kobe from His Early Days in the League

Kobe was so young and so immature in some ways, but I can tell you this: everything Kobe is doing now, he told me all the way back then he was going to do it. We were sitting on the bus once and he told me, “I’m going to be the number one scorer for the Lakers, I’m going to win five or six championships, and I’m going to be the best player in the game.” I was like, “Okay, whatever.” Then he looked me right in the eye and said, “I’m going to be the Will Smith of the NBA.”

7. Deron Williams on Kobe Circa 2008

“I have a lot of respect for his game. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen,” Williams said. “He’s just a great competitor. . . . Just seeing how he works every day, it’s inspiring.

“Until you see it up close and personal, you never really know. Any time a guy was scoring on an opposing team, he wanted to guard him. He always wanted the toughest assignment. That’s just his nature.”

8. Ron Artest (Now Metta World Peace) in 2009 after Signing with LA

“3rd workout done. Let me tell why I LOVE KOBE “JELLY BEAN”BRYANT! I Get to the gym at 6:45,the Black Mamba gets there at 5:30! Go Lakers!!!”

9. Kevin Durant’s Reflections on Playing with Kobe on the 2008 Olympics Team

“We had the day off, but they said we could get some shots up if we wanted, so I decided to head over with [Oklahoma City teammate and Team USA hopeful] Jeff Green.

“Kobe [Bryant] was the only guy on the bus, and that spoke volumes to me — he’s the best player in the game, yet he’s always willing to come work on his game, so that kind of motivated me and Jeff,” Durant said. “He went by himself, he got a lot of shots up, and by the time he was done you could see he had gotten better over that hour. Like I said, it was a big inspiration to me and Jeff.”

10. Caron Butler Credits Kobe for His Career

“I say that’s the best thing that ever could have happened for me personally for my career,” Butler said. “To play alongside a guy like that, see his preparation, see what it takes to get to that level, that’s why I was able to be so good in Washington because I took everything I learned from him under his wing.”

Butler played in 77 games in 2004-05 with the Lakers. He averaged a then career-high (by a tick) 15.5 points and then career-high 5.8 rebounds. His free throw shooting improved, too.

“Work ethic,” Butler said. “He comes to the gym 6:30, 7 in the morning, gets shots every day, a rhythm. Afterward hits the weight room, works out in the summer, studying film, critiquing guys, watching their tendencies, picking things up … Just studying the game with him taught me a lot.”

12. John Celestand on Kobe During 99-00 Season

“The first time I began to understand why he was the best was in the pre-season. In a game against the Wizards, Kobe broke the wrist on his shooting hand. He was always the first person to practice every day, arriving at least an hour and a half early. This would infuriate me because I wanted to be the first person to practice, just as I had always been at Villanova and Piscataway High in New Jersey. To add insult to injury, I lived only 10 minutes from the practice facility — while Kobe was at least 35 minutes away.

“I am ashamed to say that I was excited the day after his injury because I knew that there was no way that No. 8 (as former Laker point guard Tyronn Lue called him) would be the first to practice, if he would even be there at all.

“As I walked through the training room, I became stricken with fear when I heard a ball bouncing. No, no, it couldn’t be! Yes it could. Kobe was already in a full sweat with a cast on his right arm and dribbling and shooting with his left.”

13. Robert Horry Talks About His Time with Kobe

“I tell people all the time I used to play with Kobe Bryant.

“Kobe Bryant is probably one of the best basketball player you’ll ever see outside of Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon.

“The thing that makes Kobe so great, is that he’s a hard worker.

“And I hope the young kids would watch him and learn that you can’t get anywhere unless you put in the work, the time, and the effort. And that’s what Kobe does, he brings a lot of the time, and lot of the effort.

“People don’t know that, but he’s always the 1st in the gym, and the last to leave, even though he is the best player in the game right now.”

14. Laron Profit Recalls His Time in LA in 2005

“You know it was so funny, my first experience when I was out in LA, me and Kwame Brown got traded to the Lakers [in Summer of 2005]. We were playing a pick-up game before the season started, we were playing 3-on-3, and it was game point.

“Kobe had the ball and it came off, Kwame knocked the ball away from him.

“Again [this was] a pick-up game, September, nothing on the line. And the ball rolled to half court.

“Kobe then ran to half-court, dived under Kwame’s legs with the ball for about 10 feet, picked the ball up, came back down, made some incredible move, then hit the game-winning shot to end the pick-up game.

“I walked off the court, and I called my mom, and I said, “I think I’ve just seen the second best player ever [behind Jordan].”

“But then around him, you understand that nothing he does is by accident, that all this is a result of hours and hours and hours of preparation. So that when he gets into a situation in a game, in a playoffs game, in a Finals game, his confidence comes from his prepration.

“He once told me at a halftime of a game, he was struggling, I think we were playing Seattle [Sonics] and he was struggling, and I asked him, “How do you feel?” and he said, “I feel great! The second half… the second half. Hey Prof, I work too hard. These shots HAVE to fall eventually because I’ve worked too hard, I’ve shot too many shots.”

“So his belief in himself… when we look at it and see it as arrogance, some people see as may have too much confidence. It’s really just a result of how hard he works, of how much preparation time he puts in his game. That once he steps on the court, he really believes that he will be successful. And that’s what I think I took away from him more than anything else, it’s that your belief in yourself has to come from your confidence and your preparation.

15. Tony Gaffney Recounts Kobe’s Early Starts to Practice

Bryant’s work ethic is off the charts. It’s what separates him from other athletes who strive to become great.

In Europe, Gaffney is known for his hard work and commitment to playing defense. He collects floor burns and is the first guy in the gym and the last one to leave.

“There was no difference with the Lakers except no matter how early I showed up for practice, it wasn’t early enough: Kobe was on the court with three trainers doused in sweat,” Gaffney said.

If the Lakers had a 10:30 a.m. practice, Bryant would be in the gym at 6:00, take his daughters Natalia and Gianna to school at 8:00, then come back around 9:00 to shoot some more.

“No one would have any idea that he’s been in the gym working for three-to-four hours,” Gaffney said.

16. Excerpt from Shaq Uncut

“Kobe stands up and goes face-to-face with me and says, “You always said you’re my big brother, you’d do anything for me, and then this Colorado thing happens and you never even called me.” I did call him. … So here we are now, and we find out he really was hurt that we didn’t stand behind him. That was something new. I didn’t think he gave a rat’s ass about us either way. “Well, I thought you’d publicly support me, at least,” Kobe said. “You’re supposed to be my friend.” Brian Shaw chimed in with “Kobe, why would you think that? Shaq had all these parties and you never showed up for any of them. We invited you to dinner on the road and you didn’t come. Shaq invited you to his wedding and you weren’t there. Then you got married and didn’t invite any of us. And now you are in the middle of this problem, this sensitive situation, and now you want all of us to step up for you. We don’t even know you.”

17. Chris Douglas-Roberts on Kobe

A lot of ppl wondered why Bean spoke so highly of me last yr. First day of camp Mike Brown tried to throw me in the fire right away. Made me & Bean 1 on 1 partners for the whole first practice. What Mike Brown didn’t know is that’s what I was waiting for. That whole day we went head up. At one point it damn near came to blows bc Bean will do anything for an edge. So he was elbowing me on the low for separation & I couldn’t let that go as a competitor. As a man. The refs were too scared to call the foul bc he was intimidating them all practice. But at then end it was all love. The respect is mutual. Gave me some pointers that are priceless. It’s a misconception on Bean. Ppl think he’s a sucker…hard to play with. It’s just that he expects the most of his teammates bc he works so hard. Easily realist hooper I’ve met. He never lies and I respect that. #ClosestThingtoJordan #HeNeverSleepsEither#ImOut

18. Kobe’s Workout After a Game, From ESPN’s Rick Reilly

“Among a dozen other drills, Bryant does suicide push-ups. At the top of the pushup, he launches himself off the mat so hard that both his feet come off the ground and his hands slap his pecs. He does three sets of seven of these. This makes me turn away and whimper softly.”