Shortly after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury, Kobe Bryant vowed that he would be "Coach Vino" during the Lakers' playoff run. He briefly tweeted up a storm of advice for his teammates before coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters that Bryant was merely a "fan," a suggestion that Bryant laughed off. Shortly thereafter, the five-time champion decided to stop tweeting during games so that he wouldn't be a distraction.
A new video from Bryant's 2013 tour of China shows the 15-time All-Star back in a coaching role, giving both advice and critiques to a group of Chinese players. The hook: Bryant, whose tireless work ethic has been well-chronicled over the years, wakes up the players for an early, early morning training session.
"I think being up at 4:00 a.m. adds to the mental toughness," Bryant narrates, as the camera pans through a quiet Shanghai's empty streets before sunrise. "You start thinking, 'Maybe this morning I don't have to ... I can just shut the alarm off.' That's really challenging you mentally, having to get up and get out there and perform. That's why I do it."
Once in the gym, Bryant offers a series of pointers.
"I want you guys to understand, I want you guys to realize how hard it is to be precise," he says, to a rapt audience. "Because when your mind is thinking about doing something right, you lose focus on being precise."
As the drills begin, Bryant's observations turn to basketball matters.
"Let me tell you guys, that was awful," he says. "Slow down, take sharp angles. All my moves are sharp. ... Those turnovers at the end of the game will cost you a championship. You guys have to think, you have to know why. Once you know why they happen, then you can control them to make them happen again or not make them happen again.
The spot wraps with a return to the mind games, sounding like a Zenmaster-in-training.
"The important thing to remember is that it's not about how much you practice, per se, it's how much your mind is present when you're practicing," Bryant concludes.
Bryant, 34, said recently that he is "shattering" his recovery timelines, but it is not yet clear when he will be available for the Lakers, who will play the Clippers on Oct. 29, the opening night of the 2013-14 season. He averaged 27.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds last year.
Video via YouTube user KB824Legend | Hat tip: SlamOnline.com