Hate or love him, the one thing about Kobe Bryant you could never accuse him of is wanting to “chill”.
He has largely gone unnoticed this offseason and early this NBA season. While most people are focused on the Heat or the Celtics, Bryant and the Lakers continue to move along like a assassin just ready to pounce only when necessary.
Similar to Jordan, you get the feeling that Bryant is using this as fuel. He is using the fact that people are saying he has lost a step, that the Heat are the new “it” team or that that a healthy Celtics team still have their number as motivation.
Bryant gave an insightful interview to Yahoo Sports, that is a must read. Here are some of the quotes:
On his relationship with Michael Jackson:
“We would always talk about how he prepared to make his music, how he prepared for concerts,” Bryant said. “He would teach me what he did: How to make a ‘Thriller’ album, a ‘Bad’ album, all the details that went into it. It was all the validation that I needed – to know that I had to focus on my craft and never waver. Because what he did – and how he did it – was psychotic. He helped me get to a level where I was able to win three titles playing with Shaq because of my preparation, my study. And it’s only all grown.
“That’s the mentality that I have – it’s not an athletic one. It’s not from [Michael] Jordan. It’s not from other athletes.
“It’s from Michael Jackson.”
On players being more interested in being stars than better basketball players:
“Guys have voices now, want to build brands,” Bryant said. “I don’t identify with it, but I understand where it’s going, why it’s going there. That’s not for me. I focus on one thing and one thing only – that’s trying to win as many championships as I can.”
On being a better teammate:
“How to truly make players better, what that really means,” he said. “It’s not just passing to your guys and getting them shots. It’s not getting this or that many players into double figures. That’s bull[expletive]. That’s not how you win championships. You’ve got to change the culture of your team – that’s how you truly make guys better. In a way, you have to help them to get the same DNA that you have, the same focus you have, maybe even close to the same drive. That’s how you make guys better.
“I’ve never understood this stuff, where a star player sits out and a team goes into the tank. Well, they need him because he makes them better. Well, if he’s making them better, they should be able to survive without him. That’s how you lead your guys. You’ve got to be able to make guys suffice on their own, without you. If you’re there all the time and they take you away, they shouldn’t need a respirator.
“Once I understood all that, I looked at things completely different. I took my hands off. I didn’t try to control them. I let them make decisions, make their own [expletive]-ups and I was there to try and help them through it.”
On the Heat:
“It’s another game,” he said. “I don’t think the masses understand that. It’s just another game. It’s the Heat. I mean, Christmas morning, I’m going to open presents with my kids. I’m going to take pictures of them opening the presents. Then I’m going to come to the Staples Center and get ready to work.
Sometimes you forget that Bryant is only 32 years old. It seems like he has been around forever. Many young athletes could learn from Bryant, not just his work ethic but from a lot of the mistakes he made.
The reason he was able to overcome them was because he never stopped working.
In the end, as long as you are always working and pushing yourself to be the best you can be at your craft, you can always clean up your reputation off the court.
A lot of players when they get the fame and the money, just want to “chill” and enjoy being a star—they forget about what made them a star in the first place. They forget about the hours they spent in the gyms or the field fine tuning their games to get to the league, before the money, the women and flashy lights.
Bryant even with all his faults, never forgot about that and it looks like we can thank not Michael Jordan, but Michael Jackson for that.