Kobe Bryant — this past week I’ve watched his former teammates, coaches, opponents and media members pay him tribute. What stood out to me is everyone’s “Kobe Story” didn’t center around what he’d done; they focused on who he was and how he lived.
One of the greatest things about Kobe is his accomplishments never blinded us from the truth. The allure of achievements can easily distract us, and Kobe’s accolades are as exclusive of a haul as any — 5x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 18x All Star, NBA MVP, 12x All Defensive Team, 4th most points in NBA history, 2x Gold Medalist, and even an Oscar! But Kobe never allowed the highlights or awards outweigh what matters most. Who he was always outshone what he did.
Kobe’s physical attributes may have been apparent from day one, but they paled in comparison to his mind and his will. Here are a few Kobe stories too good not to share:
His relentlessness. (by Jalen Rose)
His mastery of the basics. (by Alan Stein)
His unwavering self-confidence. (by Jerry West)
His humility and curiosity in learning. (by Dwyane Wade)
His willingness to out work everyone. (by Jay Williams)
His purpose in everything and love for family. (Kobe on why he took helicopters)
I grew up in the generation that caught the end of Jordan’s dominance alongside Kobe’s arrival to the league as a brash teenager attempting to fill the void. While he had his flaws and wasn’t always the most liked guy (even amongst his teammates) — no one was more respected. He was looked up to throughout the athletic world because of his legendary work ethic and unrivaled competitive spirit. And as Kobe matured, the reverence for how he trained and competed only increased.
As he transitioned away from playing, Kobe re-channeled his same determination and drive into new avenues. It was inspiring to see his passion for family, story-telling and business. He wasn’t content to simply reminisce on past accomplishments but moved forward in life with purpose and intentionality in all his pursuits. He was gracious and encouraging to current players as well as an advocate for the women’s game of basketball. It felt like Kobe was poised to do even bigger things in this next phase of life…
When asked about his ideology, Kobe shared, “The mindset isn’t about seeking a result — it’s more about the process of getting to that result. It’s about the journey and the approach. it’s a way of life. I do think that it’s important, in all endeavors, to have that mentality.”
What matters most has never been about achieving or accomplishing — It’s all about who we become in the process of pursuing our goals and how we inspire those around us. Kobe epitomized the Mamba Mentality, and it’s something I hope will live on in all of us.