Well before the Alabama Crimson Tide would face the Clemson Tigers a fourth time in the College Football Playoff National Championship, head coach Nick Saban invited Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant to address his team during training camp.
Bryant spoke with the Crimson Tide football players about his work ethic and strive for greatness, learning to be leader and how to adjust when necessary in order to get the best out of teammates. He specifically mentioned relationships with former teamamtes Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in his examples.
That Saban would invite Bryant to Tuscaloosa was a fitting decision. The two share an innate drive for success, greatness and excellence in their work.
And when asked by ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi which players outside of college football he would like to coach, one of Saban’s selections was Bryant:
“That’s a tough one. Whether it’s Mookie Betts or Kobe in his day. Great competitor, very talented guy, but a driven guy to be the very best player he can be. It’s hard for me to say there’s just one person that I would pick above the rest.”
While Saban has a deep appreciation and respect for Bryant, his choice for favorite basketball player was Michael Jordan, joking that making it public could cost him future visits from the five-time champion:
“I would say Michael Jordan. But that’s a hard pick for me over Kobe Bryant. … I don’t know if [Bryant] will come back (if told of Saban’s choice).”
A win Monday night would give Saban a seventh championship in college football. Including one title with LSU, he won four BCS Championships and two more since the College Football Playoff format was instilled.
The Crimson Tide have reached the College Football Playoff in each of its five iterations, going 6-2 in that time.
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