Kobe Bryant Once Told Entire Lakers Team He Had to Touch Ball Every Time on Offense for Rest of Season

Omar Guerrero
3 Min Read

Lou Williams played only one season with Kobe Bryant, but it was enough for the Los Angeles Clippers guard to have memorable moments with one of the NBA’s all-time greats.

According to Williams, who recently appeared as a guest on an episode of “WYD? with Ros Gold-Onwude,” Bryant angrily instructed his Los Angeles Lakers teammates to let him touch the ball on every possession following a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2015-16 season.

“We were in Portland and we got blown out,” Williams said. “He wasn’t very happy about us getting blown out. He said ‘from now on out, every trip down the court, I touch the basketball.’ He told the whole team. He said ‘I touch the basketball every time down the court, and y’all are gonna learn what it’s like to play with Kobe F’in Bean Bryant.’

“And (he had) a straight look on his face. He wasn’t joking. ‘From now on out, the rest of the season, I touch the ball every time down the court.’”

Silver Screen and Roll’s Harrison Faigen deduced that the game that Williams was referring to may have occurred on Jan. 23, 2016 when the Lakers suffered an 18-point drubbing at the hands of the Blazers.

“Backing up that assumption somewhat are the numbers from that season,” wrote Faigen. “Prior to the loss in Portland, Bryant was already leading the Lakers with a usage rate — the percentage of their possessions that ended in a shot, assist, turnover of free-throws drawn by Bryant — of 29.1%, according to NBA.com. After that defeat? Bryant used 34.8% of the team’s possessions for the remaining 36 games.”

The ultra-competitive Bryant was already on his last legs as he was about to retire from professional basketball at the end of the season, but he still couldn’t accept losing.

Williams, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year awardee, was the Lakers’ third-leading scorer (15.3 points per game) that year, right behind Bryant (17.6) and Jordan Clarkson (15.5). The team finished the season with a woeful 17-65 record.

The 6-foot-1 Williams was still on the Lakers’ roster after Bryant’s retirement until he was traded to the Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer and a first-round pick midway through the 2016-17 season.

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Omar is a former writer for King James Gospel. The very first team he rooted for was the Showtime Lakers and his favorite player back then was James Worthy. Seeing the Purple and Gold win back-to-back championships in the '80s made him a basketball junkie for life. He has witnessed and celebrated every Lakers championship since then and is now looking forward to a new era of basketball in Tinseltown led by LeBron James.