Friday, June 23, 2023

Greatest Speech from Kobe Bryant

Reading Time: 12m 9s

List of Content:
  1. Introduction


I had a purpose. I wanted to be one of the best basketball players ever and anything else outside that lane. I didn't have time for it. There's a quote from one of my English teachers at Lower Marion named Mr. Fisk. He had a great quote. That said,

Rest at the end, not in the middle.
And that's something I always live by. I'm not going to rest. I'm going to keep on pushing now. A lot of answers that I don't have. Even questions that I don't have, but I'm just going to keep going, I'm just going to keep going, and I'll figure these things out as you go, right? You just continue to build that way. So I try to live by that all the time.

Q: At what age did that goal become crystal clear? 
A: I made that deal with myself at 13 years old. 

Q: 13 years old? Clear about it? 
A: Crystal clear. 

Q: And where did the inspiration come from? 
A: Um, the love of the game. The challenge. Like I would watch Magic play, I'd watch Michael play, and I would see them do these unbelievable things, and I'd say, "can I get to that level? I don't know, but let's find out. Let's find out." And so, that curiosity to see where I could push this thing. Let me down that path, I think.

I had a summer where I played basketball when I was like 10 or 11 years old. And here I come playing, and I don't score one point: the entire summer. Not a free throw, nothing. Not a lucky shot, not a breakaway lay-up. Zero points - and I remember crying about it, being upset about it. My father just gave me a hug and said, "Listen, whether you scored zero or score 60. I'm going to love you no matter what. Now, that is the most important thing that you can say to a child. Because from there, I was like "okay. It gives me all the confidence in the world to fail." I have security there. But to hell with that. I'm scoring 60.


From there, I just went to work. I just stayed with it, kept practicing, kept practicing. I think that's when the idea of understanding a long-term view became important. Because I wasn't going to catch these kids in a week. I wasn't going to catch them in a year, right? So that's when I sat down and said, "okay, this is going to take some thought." Right? What do I want to work on first? Alright. Shooting. Alright, let's knock this out. Let's focus on this for half a year, six months. Do nothing but shoot. After that, all right, create your own shot, and then you focus on it.

I started creating a menu of things. When I came back the next summer. I was a little bit better. I scored. It wasn't much right, but I scored. 12, 13... Then 14 came around. Back half 13 and 14 years old, I was just killing everyone. And it happened in two years. I wasn't expecting it to happen in two years, but it did. Because what I had to do was work on the basics and the fundamentals. Well, they relied on athleticism and their natural ability.

And because I stick to the fundamentals, it caught up to them. Then my body, you know, my knees, stopped hurting. I grew into my frame, and then it was game over.


Q: Were you always competitive from the day you were born? You were super competitive. 
A: Competitive with things that I participate in. So like, I'll put it to you this way. So, like you know, basketball for me was the most important thing, so everything I saw, whether it was tv shows or whether it was books, I read. People I talked to. Everything was done to try, to learn how to become a better basketball player. Everything, everything.

And so, when you have that point of view, then literally the world becomes your library. To help you to become better at your craft. So, at 13 years old, I had a kill list. And so, you know, they used to do these rankings. It was the Street & Smith basketball rankings. And I was nowhere to be found because I was like 6'4, scrawny, like 160 pounds, soaking wet. So I was, like, 57 on the list.

So I will look at 56, 55, all the way up to number one. Who these players are, and what club teams they played for. So when we go on an AAU travel circuit, I got to hunt them down, right? And so that became my mission in high school. It is to check off every other person. All those 56 other names. Hunt them down, and knock them down. So we played at 13, I would size you up and see what your strengths and weaknesses are. How do you approach the game? Are you silly about it? Are you goofy about it? Are you good at it? Just because you're bigger and stronger than everybody else. Or is there actually thought and skill that you put into it? Right.

And when I play, I'd play to my weaknesses. I always worked on the things during those games that I was weak at. Left hand, pull-up jump shot, post-game, right. So I have a strategy.


Q: What was really your work ethic like and for how long did you stay disciplined?
A: Well, I mean every day, I mean, since you know, 20 years. It was an everyday process and trying to figure out strengths and weaknesses. For example, jumping ability. Now my vertical was a 40 wasn't a 46 or 45. My hands are big, but they're not massive. So you got to figure out ways to strengthen them, so your hands are strong enough to be able to palm a ball and do the things that you need to do.

Quickness. I was quick but not insanely quick. I was fast, but not ridiculously fast. So I had to rely on skill a lot more. I had to rely on angles a lot more. I had to study the game a lot more. But I enjoyed it though. So like, from the time I was, I can't remember when I started watching the game. I studied the game. And it just never changed.


Q: What does losing feel like to you?
A: Oh, it's exciting. 

Q: Why is it exciting? 
A: Because it means you have different ways to get better. There are certain things that you can figure out. That you can take advantage of. Right? Certain weaknesses were exposed. That you need to shore up. So it was exciting. I mean, it sucks to lose, but the hardest thing is to face that stuff. That's a really, really tough challenge. 

Q: How did you get mentally and emotionally so strong? Where it doesn't bother you? 
A: Well, you know. It's, you got to look at the reality of the situation, you know. Like, for me, you know, you kind of got to get over yourself right and then, after that, it's okay. Well, why did those air balls happen? Got it. I didn't have the legs. So you look at the shot. Every shot was on line. Every shot was on line. But every shot was short.

I got to get stronger. I got to train differently. The weight training program that I'm doing. I got to tailor it for an 82-game season. So that when the playoffs come around, my legs are stronger, and that ball gets there. So I look at it with rationale and say: okay. Well, the reason why I shot air balls is because my legs aren't there. I got, "well, next year, they'll be there."

You have to do the hard stuff and watch that game and study that game. To not make those mistakes over and over again Just because you weren't brave enough to face it. So you got to deal with it, got to deal with it. Face it, learn from it. You don't want to have that feeling again, do you? So you got to really study it and face it. And not to say you'll win the next time, but your least you'll give yourself a better, better chance. 

It's an obsessiveness that comes along with it. You want things to be as perfect as they can be. Understand that nothing is ever perfect, but the challenge is to try to get them as perfect as they can be. And what can you do? It's in your control. So control what you can. 

Q: You have this mindset, but how did you develop that? I don't know if that's what you call a 'Mamba Mindset,' but how did you develop that, and when did it start? 
A: It started in middle school and high school. Because many of the kids I was playing against were inner-city kids. So you're looking at me. As if, okay, this kid's soft. They felt like they could try to be physical or try to intimidate me and do all this other stuff which they couldn't, right? But now I'm saying, okay, well, you're trying to attack me. How am I gonna attack you? How can I mentally figure out ways to break you down? How can I show you that "no, I have the edge." And so that's when it first started for me. It is figuring out how to get the upper hand on an opponent that way.


Q: What would you do to mentally break people down then? 
A: One of the things I would do, is while everybody would be at the cafeteria, you know, eating and doing all sorts of stuff. I just go back to the job. So that was my way of showing them "yeah. I may be from the suburbs, but you're not going to outwork me." Like I see a lot of players, take vacations with other players that are close friends. Or just to take vacations or just hang out. Like, I'm not, I never did that. 

Q: Why? Why didn't you do that? 
A: Well, because when I retire, I didn't want to have to say I wish I would have done more. I don't want that. I play games with the flu. I play games with a 102-degree fever man. We had a game against Toronto in 2000 and Vince was tearing the league up. My back was jacked, so I would be in a layup line like, okay. There are a lot of days where you know you can rest and recover. Today ain't one of them. Your back can bother you any other day. That ain't bothering me today. We're gonna have to see me today. 

Q: You're playing against the Golden State Warriors score is 107-109  You guys are close to getting into the playoffs. You know exactly what happens in the game. You go up, you're about to take your shot and then all of a sudden, boom. Your Achilles happens, right? 

A friend of mine, Nima. He is here just to listen to you. He played ball, and he told me. He says, "Patrick, I don't think you understand. He says when I tore my Achilles in high school, there are four friends of mine dragged me to my house. I was crying from there straight to the hospital". He says, "I have no clue how the hell this guy did it. He went and hit the free throws, and then you walked off the stage. How the hell do you tolerate that kind of pain?


You know. I tell this example, and I think this is the best way to explain it. You know you have a hamstring injury. You pull your hamstring really really badly. You can barely walk right, let alone play anything. You're at home. All of a sudden, a fire breaks out in the home right, your kids are upstairs. Your wife is wherever she may be. You know, going down. I'm willing to bet that you're going to forget about your hamstring. You're going to sprint upstairs, you're going to grab your kids. You'll make sure your wife's good. You're getting out of that house. And the reason is because the lives of your family are more important than the injury of your hamstring. And so when the game is more important than the injury itself, you don't feel that injury. Not at that time.

I went in the trainer's room, my kids are in there and you know they're looking at you and stuff. I'm looking at them. And I'm like you know, "it's all right, dad's going to be all right." "It'll be fine, it'll be all right, it'll be all right, it'll, be all right." As a parent. You got to set an example. You got to set an example. This is another obstacle. This obstacle cannot define me it's not going to cripple me. It's not going to be responsible for me stepping away from the game that I love. 

I'm going to step away on my own terms, and that's when a decision was made that, you know what, "I'm doing it." 

You got to lead by example. As parents, you got to lead by example. If you want your kids to do whatever it is they want to accomplish in life, you have to show them. You got to show them. The definition of greatness is to inspire the people next to you. I think that's what greatness is or should be. It's not something that's that lives and dies with one person. It's how can you inspire a person, to then in turn inspire another person, that inspires another person. And that's how you create something that I think lasts forever. I think that's our challenge as people. Is to figure out how our story can impact others, and motivate them in a way to create their own greatness.

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