Chip Schaefer, the Kings’ director of athletic performance, has a unique perspective: He has worked extensively with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, two of the most superbly conditioned NBA stars of recent decades.
Schaefer was the Chicago Bulls’ head trainer for eight seasons (1990-98) before reuniting with Phil Jackson as the Lakers’ director of athletic performance (1999-2011).
“Their routines were a little different in the day-to-day approach,” Schaefer said. “Michael’s approach was more of an intuitive one, where he would modify things depending upon how he was feeling. And (personal trainer) Tim Grover handled a lot of his strength and weight work. Kobe is a person who struck me as liking structure. He is like a pilot with a checklist. He is going to do (A), then (B), then (C), and he is not going to skip any of it. He is very systematic and it works for him.”
Bryant, 37, who is making his final appearance in Sacramento on Thursday, will retire after his 19th season.
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While describing the 6-foot-6, 212-pound Lakers guard as a physical cross between Jordan and Jordan’s former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, Schaefer noted one significant similarity: Self-discipline.
“A lot of people know what it takes to be more disciplined, but they don’t keep (the training) up,” Schaefer said. “It takes discipline to get out of bed at 5 o’clock in the morning, to train when you might not feel like it, to do the right things when you have a million things going on in your life.
“They were off the charts. And both were sort of indefatigable. Their work capacity is so high. You almost couldn’t sell books – ‘Train like Mike,’ ‘Train like Kobe’ – because very few bodies could withstand the demands. Combine that with the competitive drive to be the best you can be, and nothing is going to stop them.”