Tim Grover Shares Stories of Training Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant

“The Trainer,” Tim Grover talks with Andy about some of his most notable clients including, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. As a Sports Enhancement Therapist, Grover and Bernstein reminisce about iconic NBA moments and what sets elite athletes apart. 

Grover grew up in Chicago and jokes that as a child of Indian immigrants he had two options for his career, to be a doctor, or to be a doctor. 

“[My parents] belief and trust in me drove me to not only prove them right but to prove myself right,” Grover said. “It was not only as not to let them down but it was not to let myself down.”

Grover chose to work one-on-one with athletes rather than be a team trainer on staff. 

Grover recounts seeing a line in the newspaper about how Michael Jordan was looking to become a stronger basketball player. As a 25-year-old trainer, Grover pitched his services to the Chicago Bulls team. 

“There were 15 players on the team. I wrote fourteen letters. I wrote one letter to everyone except Michael…I hand wrote each one and I signed them,” Grover said.

One week later, he got a call from the team physician and athletic director about a client who was interested in his services. After three months of vetting, Grover went to meet the Bulls player who requested his services not knowing that it was Michael Jordan.

“I addressed him as ‘Mr. Jordan,’” Grover said. “The caveat of this story is that I was wearing Converse at this time and everyone knows if you were ever seen in a pair of shoes that weren’t Nikes or Air Jordans, he let you know.”

He explains how he laid out a plan without being intimidated by His Airness. Grover created a customized schedule for Jordan that took into account the games, team practices, and media obligations that are unique to elite athletes.

“Your best players are the ones who want to be held accountable,” Grover said.  “I’ve always believed that when you do your job – you let the athletes shine.”

Grover helped Jordan build a stronger body to defeat the Pistons and also coached him through the transition to baseball then back to basketball again.

“One of the most amazing stats that people don’t talk about is during the second threepeat Micahel never missed a game, he never missed a practice, he never missed a workout,” Grover said. 

In addition to training Jordan, Grover also worked with Kobe Bryant. People often compare the two NBA legends but Grover stressed that he “never treated Kobe like Michael.”

“Just as crazy and obsessed as they were, I was,” Grover said. He created a new, customized plan for the Mamba. 

Grover talks about the mental aspects of training and how athletes can become relentless in the pursuit of greatness by focusing on “the thing that keeps you going when nothing else will.” He describes the training philosophy he outlined in Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable and sums up the idea that fear can be a motivator.

“If fear is not a part of you, then you haven’t set your expectations high enough,” Grover said. “People look at fear as a negative thing [but] if you understand it, if you use if correctly, it allows you to do exceptional things.”

Listen to the full podcast here. Watch the video of the podcast on the @legendsofsport YouTube channel.

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