This is Part I of a series in which I share how my favorite athlete Kobe Bryant has inspired me both on and off the court of my career. You can read Part II of the series here.
Yesterday I wrote about how I incorporate a few traits from James Bond into my life. Today, I’m writing about the first 10 years of my favorite basketball player:
#08 – Kobe Bryant
Before Kobe was even drafted, there were doubters. There were haters.
There were those that said he was taking too big of a gamble by risking it all on the NBA instead of going to college. Only 5 other players had ever made the leap before him (Reggie Harding, Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins, Bill Willoughby, and Kevin Garnett). He was nothing like Kevin Garnett, who had made history the year before by becoming the first player in 20 years to be drafted straight out of high school. They said he would never survive the physicality of the game: he was too skinny, too small, not developed enough.
But Kobe believed differently.
Kobe had a defiant personality. He was the first one in to work and the last one to leave. He thrived on challenges. He had no problems standing his ground against any opponent in his way, even former Lakers legends themselves. When the man who became the NBA Logo himself saw Kobe’s pre-draft workout against Lakers legend Michael Cooper, Jerry West was only left to say “Best workout I’ve ever seen.”
Kobe was more than competitive. He was fearless. How else do you explain a rookie shooting an air ball on a potential game winning shot in a playoff elimination game, yet in overtime, having the guts to come back and keep continue shooting—even when his next three shots were all air balls themselves?
But more importantly, he never stopped pushing himself to improve his game. His perennial nominations to the All Star team and All Defensive Team would soon begin. Kobe also began expanding his game at the three point level and set the record for the most three pointers scored in a single NBA game with 12 three pointers (that record has since been tied twice).
But what made Kobe so exciting to watch was there wasn’t such a thing as a boring regular season game for Kobe. In his mind, each and every game was a Must! WIN! We never knew what he was capable of, which made every game he played in a Must WATCH game! When he was in his zone, it didn’t matter if the entire opposing team tried playing defense on him, he was determined to outscore them all. And on December 20, 2005, he did just that. After 3 quarters, the score was Kobe 62, Dallas 61.
For many players, breaking 50 points would be an incredible dream. Scoring 62 in only 3 quarters would be the highlight of their career. But 33 days later, on January 22, 2006, Kobe showed us how to do the seemingly impossible.
End of the 1st Quarter: Kobe – 14 points.
End of the 2nd Quarter: Kobe – 26 points
End of 3rd Quarter: Kobe – 53 points
End of 4th Quarter: Kobe – 81 points.
His scoring output per quarter: 14, 12, 27, 28. And while his individual quarter stats don’t seem that impressive (especially when you compare it to Klay Thompson’s 37 point outburst in the 3rd quarter on January 23, 2015), it’s Kobe’s tenacity that stands out. The rest of the team only scored 41 points, and for the majority of the game, the Lakers were losing badly! The Raptors tried to focus their defense solely on Kobe, forcing double and triple teams on him, yet Kobe kept attacking.
His Final Box Score: 28-46, 7-13 from 3 Point Range, 18-20 from the free throw line, 81 points, 6 Rebounds, 3 Steals, 2 Assists, 1 Block, 1 Win. The only disappointment of the evening: Kobe snapped his streak of consecutive free throws made at 61 in a row.
I still love this coverage by ESPN after the game:
So what does this have to do with me?
I’ve lost track of the number of doubters and haters I’ve encountered in my life.
All those times where someone has told me “You’ll never be able to do that and you’re wasting your time thinking that you can. You need to lower your expectations, come back to earth, and live in the real world” — those moments are a broken record that loop constantly in the back of my mind.
There are days where I think I have more doubters than I do members of my support team. But it’s in those moments that I look back to how Kobe arrived to NBA prominence and adopt a few of his keys to success:
When you have the guts to ignore the doubters and the haters, when you choose to be fearless of all the challenges that are presented to you, when you believe that through your killer work ethic that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, that is the formula for success. That is how you find true empowerment, and that is how you prove the doubters wrong.
It’s how you win. It’s how you pave your own path in life. It’s how you create your own legacy.
And that’s what I’m all about.
P.S. Tune in for #024 to see the 2nd half of this blog.