Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Look at Kobe Bryant’s Road Trip into NBA History

NBA Senior Writer Kevin Ding followed the Los Angeles Lakers on their three-game trip to San Antonio, Minnesota and Indiana for three very different results.

Here's a peek at what happened on and off the court during the trip…



It's Friday night, and video crews from NBA Entertainment, the Lakers' Time Warner Cable SportsNet network and Showtime (filming Kobe Bryant's Muse documentary) are all jamming into the Lakers' training room.

The small area is set aside for player medical treatment and maintenance. It's adjacent to the regular locker room, and the door usually stays closed for privacy. In some older arenas without proper training rooms, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti will settle for curtains or partitions—and when he really has nothing to work with, he'll even create makeshift separation by sticking lines of athletic tape on the carpet to convey to folks like us in the media to keep out.

But in special cases for special people, such as team photographers or league-sanctioned personnel (or Bryant's celebrity acquaintances such as Barry Bonds back in the day or Novak Djokovic more recently), access is allowed.

On this night, Bryant is threatening to pass Michael Jordan for third on the NBA's all-time scoring list. With 30 points separating them, all the directors and producers need poetic calm-before-the-storm footage if Kobe passes Michael against the San Antonio Spurs.

The footage they collect in the training room?

Kobe cutting his fingernails.

Whether he leaves a hangnail or doesn't file well, he shoots poorly—but his teammates are brilliant. And the Spurs are "pitiful," as Gregg Popovich puts it later, besides resting Kawhi Leonard's sore hand.

Does the Lakers' sharpness have something to do with Bryant scrimmaging hard and talking trash in practice the day before? Of course. Is it B...

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