Lakers sideline reporter tells Kobe Bryant ping-pong story

Kobe Bryant LA Lakers Staples Center
Photo: USA Today

Over the last few decades, many videos and stories have come to the forefront of Kobe Bryant and his passion/desire to win. To be the best at everything that fell in his path.

On a recent episode of The Lake Lake Show podcast, Los Angeles Lakers official sideline reporter Mike Trudell spoke about a story that involved him and Bryant facing off in a game of ping-pong on thanksgiving. Trudell has been a sideline reporter for the Lakers since 2008.

Trudell vs Bryant – Game 1:

After facing numerous other players on the team, Trudell recalls how Bryant was on the sidelines trash talking. Trudell decided to give it back and ended up in a contest with the 5-time NBA Champion.

“I was… playing Kobe’s game a little bit and I said ‘what, if you want some, I’m happy to give you some too. If you want to get beat’. I assumed he either wouldn’t want to play or that he was some legendary ping-pong player too. Just because he’s Kobe. And he was like ‘alright’ and he got up.”

“We started playing and I quickly learned.. it doesn’t take long in any sport, I kind of knew I was a little better at ping-pong. I grew up playing a lot. But the reason this was so interesting to me is that if you just kind of play a pick up game of anything against anybody, most of the time it’s friendly. You might talk a bit of trash but it’s not like game 7 or anything. For most people. But for Kobe, he’s studying the way I’m playing and by the end of the first game he’s made me switch what I was doing.”

Trudell vs Bryant – Game 2:

It became apparent that the contest was not a friendly thanksgiving face-off but Bryant was taking it very seriously. He was forcing Trudell, an experienced ping-pong player, to change-up his game after just one game. The sideline reporter beat him in the first game comfortably. But Bryant wanted more.

“He’s not mad like he lost to the sideline reporter, he doesn’t care. He’s just not going to do it again. The score in the second game was much closer than it was in the first game. I was still better, I still beat him, but it took more. And what I heard was that after that. He told his security guy that ‘look, we need to get a ping-pong table ordered. So that doesn’t happen again’.”

The second game finished in another Trudell victory. However, he heard after the game that Bryant told his security guard to order a ping-pong table. So he could practice and ensure that it wouldn’t happen again.

Trudell finished up by saying the following. “It was my own little insight into what he’s like as a competitor and as a person. That was fascinating to me.”

Check out Mike Trudell on episode 27 of The Lake Lake Show podcast here. Where he also spoke about what LeBron James is like behind-the-scenes, the 2019-20 roster’s chemistry, and life on the road.