Kobe Bryant is one of the most polarizing players in NBA history for good reason. No one can deny that Bryant is a legend that deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame with a reputation as an all-time great. The differing opinions come when trying to figure out where Bryant ranks on the list of all great NBA icons. Many fans of Bryant loved his ruthless mentality of winning at all costs. They loved that he took over games and tried to dominate. Critics of Bryant feel the opposite as they view his inefficient play at times as a sign of selfishness that should hurt his overall legacy compared to players like LeBron James (who, as we know, would join the Lakers a couple seasons after Kobe retired) and Magic Johnson.
Kobe's teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers were able to see both sides of him throughout the years. Many teammates loved the mentality of Bryant and believed it was the main reason for them winning together. Some felt the wrath of Bryant as his selfish tendencies on and off the court led to issues forming in the locker room. The reputation of Kobe can see him remembered in different ways due to how he carried himself. Find out which teammates agree with your opinion on his career. These are ten NBA players that could not stand playing with Kobe Bryant along with another ten that adored him as a teammate.
20 Couldn’t stand him: Andrew Bynum
The relationship between Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum had quite a few ups and downs. Bryant would get angry at Bynum following games in his first few seasons for not giving enough effort. It took Bynum quite some time to develop as a difference maker.
Bryant would call out Bynum for laziness. The two would get on the same page eventually as Bynum played a huge role in the Lakers winning the 2009 and 2010 NBA Championships. Bryant does not put up with a lack of effort, which Bynum was guilty of. Kobe likely played a role in the Lakers trading Bynum away.
19 Adored him: Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom was the most important player traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Shaquille O’Neal. The relationship between Bryant and Odom was strong throughout their run together. Odom was a very good defender that helped Bryant improve that element of his game, as well in the second half of his career.
The role of Odom helped the Lakers rebuild and become a championship team in 2009 and 2010. Bryant credits Odom as the second most important teammate of that run after Pau Gasol. Odom’s struggles following his NBA exit would see Kobe help and have his back outside of basketball as a true friend.
18 Couldn’t stand him: D'Angelo Russell
D'Angelo Russell spent his first season in the NBA playing alongside Kobe Bryant and company on the Los Angeles Lakers. The season was a disappointment as the Lakers weren’t a winning team. Bryant’s retirement dominated the season and it led to him controlling the offense.
There were comments from Russell in his second season that implied his improvement was hindered from Bryant controlling the ball and not letting him develop. Russell had a horrible in Los Angeles and was traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Bryant did take shots at a few of the young players on the team after retirement showing they just didn’t mesh.
17 Adored him: Eddie Jones
Many people assume Eddie Jones and Kobe Bryant had a bad relationship due to Jones losing his spot to Bryant. Los Angeles Lakers fans loved Jones, but everyone knew Bryant was being groomed for the starting shooting guard spot. Jones likely knew it as well and didn’t care as he got along well with the youngster.
Bryant and Jones had great times together as Jones contributed to the team while Bryant was growing into a star. The Lakers eventually ditched Jones to give all the shooting guard minutes to Bryant, but Jones took pride in seeing Kobe rise to the top.
16 Couldn’t stand him: Chris Mihm
The first few years for Kobe Bryant after the Los Angeles Lakers traded Shaquille O’Neal provided huge disappointment. Fans and critics went after Bryant for taking too many shots and not helping his teammates improve. Bryant would rebound a few years later after the Lakers added Pau Gasol, but his teammates before that time were trashed.
Chris Mihm was one of the role players that Bryant trashed. Bryant flat-out replied to critics calling him selfish by asking if he was supposed to pass the ball to Mihm. Lakers management hoped Mihm’s potential as a former lottery pick would be fulfilled playing with Bryant, but Kobe had no time for him.
15 Adored him: Adam Morrison
One of the least likely teammates to have the support of Kobe Bryant was Adam Morrison. The former lottery pick had potential to become a superstar coming out of college. Morrison’s shooting was impressive, but he could not thrive at the NBA level.
Los Angeles Lakers fans viewed Morrison as a disappointment even though he spent the end of his career on the championship winning teams. Bryant did support Morrison despite having a reputation of trashing underachievers. Fans would see Kobe going out of his way to commend Morrison after his rare good games. Bryant never had a bad word to say about Morrison despite his disappointing play.
14 Couldn’t stand him: Nick Young
Nick Young is the kind of player that clearly does not mesh well with Kobe Bryant. The serious demeanor of Bryant was all about winning. Young preferred having fun and was known for making wild plays. Bryant did clown Young a few times for his actions on the court.
An interview on the Jimmy Kimmel Show featured Kobe looking disgusted at Young and a few other Lakers for celebrating a win that ended a long losing streak. Bryant likely would have lost his mind if he played longer with Young as a teammate. Young winning an NBA Championship with the Golden State Warriors in 2018 is a moment Kobe would not have guessed.
13 Adored him: Rick Fox
Rick Fox was one of the underrated fixtures for the Los Angeles Lakers during their 2000-2002 run as three-peat NBA Champions. The small forward position had Fox starting the entire time, adding a consistent piece in the lineup for Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
Many of the Lakers players took sides in the locker room rivalry between Kobe and Shaq. Fox never picked one over the other and tried to continue maintaining a professional demeanor. Bryant credited Fox for being one of the unsung heroes of the three-peat. They clearly enjoyed each other with the winning leading to happiness all around.
12 Couldn’t stand him: Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown is one of the few NBA players to get trashed by both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Jordan drafted him out of high school when running the Washington Wizards and frequently cursed him out in practice. Brown joined the Los Angeles Lakers during the short rebuilding years and was trashed by Bryant as well.
Various interviews following retirement featured Kobe trashing Brown publicly for being a bad teammate. Brown responded by calling Bryant out for being nice to his face but taking trash in the media. There’s clearly not much respect between the two following a negative relationship during their time playing together.
11 Adored him: Luke Walton
Luke Walton is the current head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and is a forgotten member of the last two NBA Championship runs for the team. Kobe Bryant had Walton on the roster as a role player off the bench. Walton was not a difference maker, but he was always commended for his basketball intelligence.
Bryant would get upset at talented teammates that couldn’t figure it out. Walton did not have as much athletic ability, but he tried to get the best out of it, which won Kobe’s respect. Comments from Bryant in 2018 interviews featured him complimenting Walton as a coach, despite many Lakers fans wanting him fired.
10 Couldn’t stand him: Shaquille O'Neal
The most obvious instance of a teammate having issues with Kobe Bryant was Shaquille O’Neal. Most pundits believed the Los Angeles Lakers underachieved despite winning three consecutive NBA Championships. The reason for this is the Kobe and Shaq failing to get along.
Both superstars started taking shots at each other to the media. The Lakers felt they needed to make a trade and dealt Shaq due to Kobe being the younger one. Bryant would win two more titles for the Lakers and O’Neal won one with the Miami Heat shortly after the trade. Both guys have since made peace following a top-tier intense rivalry in NBA history.
9 Adored him: Metta World Peace
Metta World Peace was a part of the 2010 NBA Championship and played a huge role. Most fans credit Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol most, but they may have missed out on the title if not for World Peace’s presence. He hit a game-winning shot in the Western Conference Finals and clutch shots in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Bryant and World Peace engaged emotionally after the game. Kobe's support throughout the season led Metta continuing to improve in his new surroundings. Many teams felt World Peace, especially back when he was still called Ron Artest, would be the reason for a contender imploding, but the help from Bryant helped him thrive.
8 Couldn’t stand him: Jeremy Lin
The first interaction between Jeremy Lin and Kobe Bryant in a major manner led to Lin embarrassing Bryant in Madison Square Garden during the days of Linsanity. Bryant mocked Lin’s rise to the top for a few weeks, but Lin outplayed him on a big stage.
Lin would regress and leave the New York Knicks after this. The Los Angeles Lakers signed Lin a few years later, and Bryant still had no love for him. Bryant reportedly would trash him in practice and Lin held his own. The two never got along and Lin likely regretted joining the Lakers to further slow his momentum down.
7 Adored him: Ronny Turiaf
One of the biggest surprises among the Los Angeles Lakers teammates that got along with Kobe Bryant was Ronny Turiaf. This role-playing center would play extremely hard to attempt to get every rebound or loose ball. Bryant had huge respect for hard workers and developed a bond with Turiaf.
The two remained close friends after Turiaf left the team. Bryant has name-dropped Turiaf in interviews when discussing his four favorite teammates. Most fans naturally assume Kobe only loved the superstars that helped him, but Turiaf is one of the closest friends in basketball Bryant made during his Lakers career.
6 Couldn’t stand him: Smush Parker
The Los Angeles Lakers took a chance on Smush Parker as a young, promising guard with the hopes of becoming a long-term starter alongside Kobe Bryant. Things worked out the opposite as Parker failed to progress and Bryant developed an intense dislike for him.
Kobe has trashed Smush in many interviews throughout the years as one of his worst teammates. Parker called Bryant a selfish player and claimed Bryant refused to speak to him during practice. Most fans only remember Smush due to the insults from Kobe turning him into a historic NBA punchline. Don’t expect Parker and Bryant to ever make peace.
5 Adored him: Derek Fisher
Derek Fisher was the only on-court teammate who played alongside Kobe Bryant during all five NBA Championship wins together for the Los Angeles Lakers. Both runs featured Fisher as the main point guard playing next to Bryant. The ball-dominant style of Kobe led to him wanting the basketball, as Fisher could thrive without it.
Fisher coming back for the second run of two titles was huge for the Lakers to become the NBA Champions once again. Bryant has gone on the record that he doesn’t know if they would have gotten over the hump without him. Fisher loved working with Kobe as they shared the best professional joys together.
4 Couldn’t stand him: Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard joining the Los Angeles Lakers via trade was supposed to start the next dynasty. The super-team featured Howard and Steve Nash joining Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Nash’s injuries ruined the rest of his career, but Howard also fell apart that season.
There were injury issues for Howard as well that slowed him down. However, the negative relationship between Bryant and Howard led to huge problems for the Lakers. Kobe did not like Dwight’s carefree attitude of cracking jokes after losses. Howard strongly disliked playing with Bryant and left the team after one season in free agency to take less money with the Houston Rockets.
3 Adored him: Caron Butler
Caron Butler is one of the best friends Kobe Bryant made during his NBA career. The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Butler in the Shaquille O’Neal trade, but he only spent one season there. Butler did not have much of an impact on the Lakers. Bryant, however, did find a great friend as the two connected in the short run together.
Huge respect was developed between the two with the bond still existing today. Bryant wrote the foreword for Butler’s book and went into detail about just how much he appreciated his former teammate. Butler had a reputation for his strong work ethic and that likely won over Kobe right away.
2 Couldn’t stand him: Karl Malone
The 2004 Los Angeles Lakers run is remembered as one of the biggest failures in NBA history. Legends Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant with the hopes of winning their first rings with the established dynasty. A lack of chemistry destroyed this would-have-been Lakers super-team.
The Lakers did reach the NBA Finals before getting destroyed by the Detroit Pistons. It was still viewed as a massive disappointment. Malone and Bryant, specifically, had problems all season. Kobe claimed Malone made a pass at his wife, which led to tension between both stars. They also just couldn’t figure out how to make their games work together. Bryant and Malone still have harsh words for each other today.
1 Adored him: Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol is the one player Kobe Bryant has named as his ultimate favorite teammate. The trade for Gasol led to the Los Angeles Lakers returning to the top with three consecutive NBA Finals and two NBA Championships. Gasol perfectly complimented Bryant’s game as his ideal second star.
The problem with Shaquille O’Neal for Kobe was that he wanted top billing and more shots. Gasol was more than happy being second fiddle and thrived as the second option on such a great team. Bryant and Gasol were perfect teammates that complimented each other and helped the Lakers win another two titles.