Young Kobe told Jerry West, "My teammates hate me" and Jerry West responded "I'd hate you too if I were your teammate."
Yet when it comes to basketball Kobe is better, perhaps, than anyone who ever played, with the inevitable exception of Michael Jordan. They all know it. They know that he knows it. "Putting Kobe in the NBA–what that's like," says his teammate Brian Shaw, "Is if you put me on a high school team. I could score whenever I wanted. I could get through four guys. I'd have to decide: Do I do that because I can do it, or do I play the right way?"
But Kobe is not always interested in playing the right way. By his fifth year that has taken its toll. He goes one night to the home of Jerry West, the Lakers' general manager, one of the all-time greats and a man who understands that the exceptionally gifted play by a different rule book. "My teammates hate me," Kobe tells West.
"I'd hate you too," West responds, "if I were your teammate."