“He Was Like M*F*, Where You Been?” Phil Handy Shares Kobe Stories, Talks Lakers and Discusses Life in The Bubble

All the way from inside the Orlando NBA bubble, Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy joined The Alley-Oop Show this week. Handy has one of the most decorated assistant coaching careers in the NBA, having coached superstars such as Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving. Prior to joining the Lakers this season, he had been to five consecutive NBA finals as an assistant coach (four with Cleveland and one with Toronto).  

During his playing career, Handy spent one year with the Melbourne Tigers in the NBL and played alongside Andrew Gaze and Leonard Copeland. Handy joined his ex-teammates to discuss topics such as his move into coaching, working with Kobe, his disagreement with Lebron and adjusting to the NBA bubble.

According to Handy, the opportunity to work with Kobe Bryant was the main reason he first started coaching in the NBA. “When Mike Brown got the job I wasn’t really interested in the job but what really tipped the hat for me was the opportunity to work with Kobe.” 

Working with Kobe was an opportunity to coach and learn from the best. “I looked at that as the biggest challenge as a trainer. To say, look here is an opportunity to build a relationship with one of the best players to ever play. If your philosophy and methods resonate with him you are on the right track.”

He opened up about his most memorable Kobe story. “The first day I got there (Lakers). The first 3-4 days I would be there early. He (Kobe) would come out of the training room and pull out a chair on the side of the court and sit there for 3-4 minutes.” Handy was pretty sure why Kobe was there. “He was wanting to see if I knew what I was doing!”

“About two weeks later he called me and he said ‘hey I want you to meet me at the gym at 5:45'. I show up at the gym at about 5:15 and I sat there and waited. 5:30, 5:45, 6:00, 6:15. I go home and come in the next morning. He comes barging out of the training room and he was like m*f* where you been? I was like bro I was here last night. No m*f*, I said 5:45 this morning!”

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Handy has experienced life at several NBA teams and the differences have been apparent.

On the Lakers: “Lakers are a family run business. A unique family feel. It is more of an intimate setting.”

On Cleveland: “Dan gilbert I tip my hat to him - when we were there he spent whatever penny he had to spend to put a championship team on the floor.”

Given the Lakers are one of the favourites to win the title this year, it appears that Handy is set for a long stint in the bubble. The 48 year old isn’t phased, likening the situation to a holiday. “To me it is like going from the states to overseas.” However, the brand new state of the art courts have taken a bit of time to get used to. “The cameras are robotic cameras - they have about 10-15 cameras around every court. There is only one cameraman is on the court.”

You can watch the full interview with Phil Handy here, where he also talks about:

  • The conditions for superstars
  • The best place to get chicken wings
  • Pre-season games
  • His disagreement with Lebron
  • That JR Smith brain fade 

Find The Alley-Oop Show online at www.nofilter.media/alleyoop, join the conversation on Instagram at @thenofilternetwork, or watch on YouTube, and listen wherever you find your podcasts.

August 3, 2020




Shay Namdarian


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