[Source] - In 2012, what I remember with Kobe was he spent a lot of the – or he spent some of that – Olympics with Russell Westbrook telling Russ, “You know, you should be winning scoring titles. I don’t know why you’re letting Kevin win scoring titles. You should be the one winning them.” Anything he could do to plant a little seed of dissent with two teammates, it was pretty funny.
This is the most diabolical shit I can think of. It's also exactly why Kobe was so damn good with the mental warfare. He knew the Thunder were a threat and had stars with Russ and Durant. So what does he do? Plants the seed that Russ needs to attack more. Worry about scoring titles. He made sure to stress the word scoring and not titles, no doubt about that.
But the thing is - it actually worked! I don't know who that shows more on. The fact Kobe can break up a potential dynasty with a conversation, Russ for buying into it or Durant for letting it get to him. We saw every single report that came out the last year he was with the Thunder until present day. There was a riff between the two no matter how many times we read about it.
You know Kobe was cackling watching this unfold too. The Lakers weren't even contenders when this all happened too. Kobe got hurt, the Lakers got old and made the playoffs just once after the 2012 Olympics. The best part? The reason Kobe had this talk - the Lakers lost to the Thunder in the second round the previous season. The man knew he had to tear them apart to have any sort of chance. Gotta give credit where credit's due there.
It's been said numerous times, but it's true. The Thunder are one of the biggest what-if stories we'll look back on in the NBA. The decision to trade Harden and keep Ibaka. The break up of Russ and KD. They could have been a dynasty if they figured it out. It's also why everyone cautions when a team with star players under 25 say don't talk about a window. It can close with one trade or one bad contract.
Fucking Kobe man. Dude was always a step ahead in the mental game.