KEY POINTS

  • Kobe Bryant's father Joe used to make him watch how an average NBA player used his left hand
  • Bryant revealed who the NBA player his father used to make him watch
  • Bryant once played several minutes shooting left-handed

Kobe Bryant’s father Joe “Jellybean” used to make him watch a former NBA player so he can learn how to make use of his left hand.

During the 80s, Dominique Wilkins and the Atlanta Hawks were one of the most talented teams in the NBA. Aside from Wilkins, the team was particularly prolific in the backcourt because of All-Star  Doc Rivers . And right before the 1985-86 seasons, the team added new and exciting rookies Spud Webb and John Battle. Webb and Battle eventually became one of the best back-up backcourts in the 1980’s. But as for Bryant’s father Joe, also a former NBA player, Battle had one skill he wanted Kobe to learn – using the left hand.

The late NBA legend  vividly recalled Battle as one of his 1980s heroes. In fact, in the 2018 documentary  “Kobe Bryant’s Muse,” Bryant revealed that his father used to make him watch old tapes of how Battle used his left hand in dribbling and scoring to the basket, Basketball Network reported.

“My father told me, ‘Watch this. See this guy? This is how you can make use of your left hand. “It was John Battle, dribbling left and laying it in,” Bryant revealed.

Battle’s left hand may have really worked out for Bryant. In fact, the Lakers legend once played a couple of minutes during an NBA game using mostly his left hand. In 2015, during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Bryant injured his right shoulder on a dunk in the third quarter. He sat out most of the fourth quarter, but with five minutes remaining and the Lakers down 13, Bryant checked back into the game, and began shooting left-handed.

Widely known for continuously improving his game, it will be a bit bizarre to conclude that Bryant ultimately learned to use his left hand from an NBA journeyman like Battle. And apparently, only Bryant can tell whether it worked for him or not.

Kobe Bryant Lakers 2014 Kobe Bryant has one year remaining on his current contract, and the Lakers will free up $40 million salary cap space next summer. Photo: Reuters

Battle’s most productive season in the NBA came in 1987/88 when he averaged 10.6 points in 18.3 minutes per game. On December 19th, 1987, Battle, who was nicknamed “Cricket” by his teammates, came off the bench vs. traveling Utah Jazz squad and torched them with 27 points on 9-16 shooting.

Matched up with Utah’s  Darrell Griffith , shooting guard of a similar size, 6’2″ Battle would go on to exploit his offensive specialty – mid-range jumper. On the said night, no one could check him and the best they could do was only foul him. In the process, Battle eventually ended up shooting as many as 11 free-throws and hitting 8 of those attempts.