Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner, LA Times (http://articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/31/sports/sp-kobevideo31)
There are few things more important to Kobe Bryant before a game than his portable DVD player.
It goes wherever he goes before tipoff. On the padded table in the trainer’s room. On the floor for a pregame stretching routine. Perched in front of his locker.
The Lakers’ 10-time All-Star stares at his 10-inch screen, watching basketball clips of the players he’ll be guarding.
It is part of his longtime commitment to studying video, one of the foundations of a career still going strong in its 13th season.
“Hands down, he’s the biggest video fiend we’ve ever had,” said Chris Bodaken, the Lakers’ director of video services. “I didn’t know if it was possible to be more competitive than Magic was, but I think he might be. It carries over into his preparation, and this is part of that.”
Bryant previously studied clips from entire games, watching them at his home or on the way to home games in his car (he is typically driven by one of his bodyguards). Now his pregame routine also includes clips of individual players he will guard.
Bodaken’s co-worker, Patrick O’Keefe, 28, is in charge of compiling Bryant’s video montages.
After conferring with Bryant, O’Keefe takes a little more than an hour to scroll through an opponent’s last few games and find key plays from the players Bryant will guard, presenting him with eight to 12 minutes of edited footage.
The goal is for Bryant to pick up tendencies of rival players. Have they added any new moves? Have they been aggressively driving to the basket or have they been satisfied to drift from the hoop and settle for outside jump shots?
Before games, Bryant slips in custom-made earpieces with “KB” monograms on each side. Then he turns on his DVD player and tries to find ways to take away comfort zones from opponents.
For the Christmas Day game against Boston, he received 12 edited minutes of three Celtics starters: Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen. Less than 48 hours later, he received 11 minutes of three Golden State players: Stephen Jackson, Kelenna Azubuike and Marco Belinelli.
“It’s a blueprint,” said Bryant, an eight-time member of the NBA all-defensive team. “So if something goes down, it’s not something you haven’t seen before. Everybody’s got tendencies. If he scores 40 on Monday, he’s going to try to do it on Tuesday. You’ve got to take him out of his spots. That’s the key.”
Bryant has studied basketball footage since he was a 6-year-old in Italy, where his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played professionally after an eight-year NBA career.
Bryant’s grandfather would send video tapes to Italy of NBA games, and Bryant would eagerly pop them into the bulky tape machines of the 1980s. NBA games were not televised in Europe, so Bryant depended on the boxes from his grandfather to be able to imitate U.S. professionals.
“When I saw a hot move, I could rewind it and go back and watch it and learn from it,” Bryant said. “It started real early.”