Two months ago

Iconic Bryant Workout, Article from LA Times

Iconic workout preserved on tape
Los Angeles Times25 Jan 2021By Andrew Greif

Rex Kalamian
Bryant's first impression on Clippers gave glimpse of what was to come.
In the 1990s, it was standard procedure for the Clippers to reuse their stock of VHS tapes as often as possible. Old games and outdated opponent scouting videos had particularly short shelf lives. The team’s draft workouts were no exception.
Once the league’s annual draft finished, so was the usefulness gleaned from watching a prospect working out alone. The job of taping over the VHS usually fell to Rex Kalamian, a Monterey Park native in his late 20s who handled the team’s video duties, even after his promotion to coach Bill Fitch’s staff of assistants.
By the time Kalamian stood behind a camera between the top of the Sports Arena’s three-point arc and midcourt line on June 22, 1996, four days before the draft, he and a small group of Clippers officials pondering what to do with the seventh pick had already worked out college stars that included Antoine Walker, Lorenzen Wright, Kerry Kittles and Samaki Walker.
Almost as soon as Kalamian hit record, at 9:30 a.m., and 17-year-old Kobe Bryant began pogoing off two legs to make a series of layups, performing "probably the most athletic Mikan drill you’re ever going to see," Kalamian recognized what he and others were watching was unique.
Tiring at the end of the 60-second Mikan drill, missing shots with either hand, Bryant finished with a “statement,” Kalamian said — a thunderous dunk off two feet from below the basket. In blue shorts and a gray T-shirt bearing the Clippers’ logo, Bryant walked toward halfcourt with a slight scowl. That was the warmup.
“At one point Jim Brewer, one of the assistant coaches, walked by,” Kalamian said. “And he said to me, 'Are you looking at what I’m looking at right now?’ ”
He still can, in fact, because Kalamian never taped over Bryant’s workout. After the Clippers picked Wright and the Lakers traded for Bryant, who was taken 13th by Charlotte, his intuition told him to keep the VHS.
“This one, I knew was going to be something that I would want to look back at someday,” Kalamian said. “I kind of put it aside and kept it in a box for a very long time.”
His decision preserved a slightly grainy but little-seen window into the budding start of one of the NBA’s most iconic careers.
Now an assistant in Sacramento, the seventh stop of his 28-year NBA career, Kalamian recently showed the video to Kings coach Luke Walton, a former Lakers teammate of Bryant, during a trip. Two years ago, while coaching with the Clippers, Kalamian didn’t think much of it when he asked a video staffer to convert a CD of the workout into a digital file.
“I walked by the video room about an hour later and there must have been about eight people surrounding the monitor,” he said. “They were all astonished. They’d just watched an hour of Kobe Bryant at [17] years old doing a workout.”
Brewer, speaking by phone this week, was fascinated to hear the video had been saved.
“That was very insightful of Rex to do that,” Brewer said. “I knew that was a special workout. ... The lengths to which he could push himself.”
No one who left the Sports Arena that day predicted the lofty heights Bryant would reach, but there were clues of his unique gifts. Fitch pushed prospects hard to gauge how they played under fatigue. Bryant, as a teen, handled it better than others who’d spent four years in college, Brewer said.
“It was like seeing a beautiful woman, it’s like, ‘Holy mackerel, this guy,’ ” former Clippers assistant Barry Hecker said in 2020. “He had the size and had the confidence, even then.”
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, who won two titles as Bryant’s Lakers teammate, said he has yet to meet a player who can match Bryant’s relentless competitiveness, and it was on display early. Over lunch at Aunt Kizzy’s in Marina Del Rey, after the workout, Bryant told team officials he was consumed by basketball and pursuing greatness, recalled Kalamian, who was sitting next to Bryant.
Fitch liked to have draft prospects compete in shooting games against Kalamian, a former guard at East Los Angeles College and Cal Poly Pomona, and about 10 minutes into his workout, Bryant was the first to make 15 shots from the free-throw line’s elbow — the last shot with his left hand.
Fitch later had the two play HORSE, and Bryant proposed raising the stakes: If the young assistant lost, he’d have to wash and detail Bryant’s car.
“I tell you, every time I saw him for about the next 10 years he’d say to me, ‘You owe me a car wash!’ ” Kalamian said.
In the year since the death of Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, the video has taken on more personal resonance beyond just the sight of seeing a five-time champion on the cusp of stardom. On homemade posters, basketballs and even the painted asphalt, thousands who’d gathered near Staples Center in the days after the Jan. 26, 2020, crash wrote down their earliest, fondest memories of the 6-foot-6 guard.
Kalamian, however, could turn to a resource few others had: a time capsule documenting, in full, the first of their many interactions as the years wore on and each established themselves within the league.
“For the next 24 years, he treated me like a guy that I’d known forever,” Kalamian said. “Every time I saw him. That’s the way that I think so many people felt. He had a way about him that you felt like, he was a friend.”
Bryant never did get the car wash. Kalamian had something else for him. Years into their careers, Kalamian told Bryant that he still had the footage from June 22, 1996. Bryant was intrigued, Kalamian said. The next time their teams played, the assistant called over a ball boy to deliver a CD case to the visitor’s locker room. Bryant sent back an autographed pair of game-worn sneakers as thanks, with one instruction for Kalamian: Give these to your son. “My son still has the shoes,” he said. Did Bryant ever watch it? Kalamian never found out. Still, he believed there was only one answer.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that he popped that thing in and watched,” he said. “And he probably critiqued himself over it. ‘I can’t believe I missed those shots.’ ”

Topic #48022 | Report this topic

Two months ago

This is the problem with America and how much they eulogise sports stars. We do it a bit here too but American's just take it to a whole new cult-like level.

No mention of that same 17 year old kid refusing to play for Charlotte and demanding a trade specifically to the Lakers?

No mention of Colorado?

No mention of him freezing Shaq out in the 2004 NBA Finals because he wanted to be the Finals MVP and didn't mind killing the team's chances of winning to do so?

No mention of after that Finals series him being a free-agent demanded the Lakers trade Shaq, fire coach Phil Jackson and not bring back Malone and Payton because he wanted the whole team to himself?

No mention of Phil Jackson then writing a book calling Kobe
'uncoachable' and PJ's replacement Rudy Tomjanovic quitting half-way into his first year of his 3 year contract because trying to coach Kobe had sent him back to the bottle?

Reply #829623 | Report this post

Two months ago

Nah, probably not, just as when you talk about Wayne Carey late nineties there's not a lot about the partner bashing, not a lot about him icing teammates etc. it’s what happens to the stars. Especially posthumously.

Reply #829646 | Report this post

Two months ago

Nice information

Reply #829648 | Report this post

Two months ago


Reply #829683 | Report this post

Two months ago

Don't let facts get in the way of a cool story Zodiac.

Kobe never refused to play for the Hornets. After being drafted? The Hornets GM said we have no use for you in this team and was traded for Vlade Divac.

Vlade was the one who refused and said he would retire which put a spanner in the works. Vlade later accepted and was off to Charlotte.

Kobe wasn’t perfect, but who is. Celebrate the great ones, instead of smut peddling stories you know nothing about.

2004 Finals Kobe hardly shut Shaq out.
Shaq 26 pts 10 rebs
Kobe 22 pts 4 assists

Yeah, Kobe was gunning for MVP with those numbers lol

Colorado was fixed. I could accuse you of rape - does it mean it’s true?

America does hold its stars in high regard, you on the other hand love the Australian way of cutting them down tall poppy style, loser

Reply #829693 | Report this post

Two months ago

Who cares, the article is about a high school work out tape, nothing more and nothing less, why bring up anything else?

Reply #829704 | Report this post


Reply to this topic

Random name suggestion for anonymous posters: Europa 24

Rules:You must read the Terms of Use. No spam, no offensive material, no sniping at other clubs, no 'who cares?'-type comments, no naming or bashing under 18 players. Learn how to embed YouTube videos or tweets

Please proof-read your post before submitting as you will not be able to edit it afterwards.

Close ads
Dunk.com.au - Custom basketball uniforms
Punch - insightful time tracking
Beam Orders - a quick, simple order and payments site for your business.

Advertise on Hoops to a very focused, local and sports-keen audience. Email for rates and options.

Recent Posts


An Australian basketball forum covering NBL, WNBL, ABL, Juniors plus NBA, WNBA, NZ, Europe, etc | Forum time is: 5:37 pm, Tue 9 Mar 2021 | Posts: 863,395 | Last 7 days: 1,133