The modern concept of “load management” is one that baffles Kobe Bryant.
Bryant says healthy NBA players have a duty to perform for paying customers “every single night.”
For The Black Mamba, the refusal to sit out games (even when his body was screaming for him to do so) was a simple matter of competitive pride.
“What the hell is that?” Bryant said, referring to load management. “I don’t know what that is. That’s crazy.
“You’ve got a lot of people paying their hard-earned money to watch you perform. It’s your job to be in shape. It’s your job to perform at that level every single night. And as a competitor, I’m not duckin’ shit. Like, it’s not, ‘Oh, my back hurts. I’m sore. We gotta play Vince Carter and the Toronto Raptors tonight.’
“We had a game against Toronto in 2000, and Vince was tearing the league up. My back was jacked. But the perception of that, Kobe is missing a game against Toronto and Vince Carter …
“Man, my back was really having spasms. But people would have looked at me like, ‘Oh, he’s duckin’ Vince.’ Excuse me? No, I don’t think so.
“So I would be in the layup line like, ‘Okay, there are a lot of days when you can rest and recover. Today ain’t one of them. He’s gonna have to see me today.”