Tony Gaffney may have only spent the 2009-2010 pre-season with the Lakers, but his short time there included some epic rookie hazing.
“There was no difference with the Lakers except no matter how early I showed up for practice, it wasn’t early enough: Kobe was on the court with three trainers doused in sweat,” Gaffney said.
He played at the University of Massachusetts prior to stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics before heading overseas. But it was his time spent with Kobe Bryant that will ultimately be the defining moment of his career.
The Lakers had just come off winning an NBA title and the first guy Kobe sees in the gym is myself,” Gaffney said. “He said, ‘Who the hell is this?’” Former Lakers teammate Lamar Odom followed up by telling Gaffney, “Kobe doesn’t like mother****ers like you.”
Bryant learned about Gaffney’s reputation coming out of college as a defensive stopper, leading him to seek on-court confirmation.
“We’re gonna start playing one-on-one,” Bryant told Gaffney. “I heard you’re a defensive lockdown player. So, lock me down.”
“Obviously easier said than done,” claimed Gaffney . “But for about three weeks in a row, I was forced to show up hours before practice to play one-on-one against Kobe. “Oh, and I never got to play offense,” Gaffney said.”
Much to the chagrin of many, Bryant received a lucrative two-year, $48.5-million contract extension this past season. But his actions at a rookie initiation party at The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas may indicate he’s receiving a return for paying it forward.
L.A. made it clear that I made the team. I was the last player cut at morning shootaround on opening night against the Clippers,” said Gaffney . “I walked into the high-stakes room, but I didn’t have any money. I then saw Kobe, he was watching some guys throw some money around before he turns to me and says, ‘What are you doing here, rook?
“Next thing I know, Kobe throws his black card on the table and hands me 10 stacks ($10,000). What I really wanted to do at the time was just put it in my pocket and run. Sure enough, an hour later it was all gone.”