Roland Lazenby, who wrote the book on the Lakers, has an excellent blog which tells the tale of Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher’s friendship. Lazenby recalls:
It didn’t take long, of course, before Bryant was alienated from his teammates. Some of them soon came to express a hatred for him. Raw ambition will do that for you.
The Kobe Bryant I got to know was this pretty miserable person. He told me he was determined to be the greatest. He knew he was going to be, but he just didn’t know how it was going to happen.
They laughed at him behind his back, derided him and despised him. As veteran teammate Rick Fox explained to me, the older players saw Kobe as the punk kid in the school cafeteria who was trying to jump ahead of them in the lunch line. They spent their time thinking of ways to teach him a lesson.
If nothing else, the rest of the team bonded together in their dislike for this arrogant young guy.
All of them except for one.
Derek Fisher was a rookie with Kobe Bryant, but Fisher was already 22, having put in four years of hard work at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.
When I first met Fish, he was young, open-faced, and honest, with a maturity that extended far beyond his years.
“Really,” Fish told me, “we should all be the way Kobe is. We should all be working as hard as possible to be the best we can be, to make this team the best it can be.”
Still, he didn’t know quite what to make of Bryant. And Bryant, who had quickly learned not to trust anyone, was wary of him too.
Bryant, though, had a pretty simple way of looking at the world. He gauged those around him based on how hard they were willing to work.
It didn’t take Bryant long to notice that Derek Fisher, while not the most talented guy in the world, worked really, really, really hard. And that became the basis for their trust, and eventually, their friendship.
Fisher’s main talent was his ability to work really, really, really hard.
Suddenly the world wasn’t quite so lonely for Kobe Bryant.