This is part of the unparalleled work ethic that made Kobe Bryant one of the greats to ever play the sport of basketball.
On May of 1996, Kobe Bryant said in an interview: “I, Kobe Bryant…have decided to skip college and take my talents to the NBA.”
The precocious 17-year-old then fulfilled his work and became the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets were the ones to pick up the Lower Merion High School alumni.
However, on a day-trade, the Hornets dealt him to the Los Angeles Lakers, beginning the story of the myth, the only player with two jersey hung at Staples Center.
Over 20 years inside the NBA saw Bryant conquer 5 championships, over 33,500 scored points (the 3rd best of all-time), 18 all-stars selections and the 2007-08 regular season MVP.
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Without a doubt, he became the man to follow, taking basketball to uncharted dimensions, but what did his work ethic have to do with it?
Kobe Bryant: The leader
It had everything to do with his work ethic!
Kobe did everything he could to better himself and his abilities. In his book, Shaquille O’Neal wrote “You’d walk in there and he’d be cutting and grunting and motioning like he was dribbling and shooting — except there was no ball.”
He took his partners to the limit by watching film of himself on halftime, he would challenge his teammates to one-on-one games to 100 points, he was the first one at practice and the last one to leave. He would breath, walk and talk basketball, he trained after or before games, watch his diet and pull off a harsher training routine when it was offseason.
Since the day he started, Kobe was determined to wring every last drop of success out of his career that he possibly could, and he did, obstacles be damned, but hard and daily work is the only and most proved way to achieve success, and we have these quotes to never forget how Kobe did it:
- “He’s the hardest-working player I ever had. He would be in the weight room lifting six or seven days a week. I give a blueprint to my players to follow. Some follow it nicely and some don’t. He followed it precisely. We start school here at 7:30. When there is heavy snow, we have what we call a late opener, meaning 9:30. It didn’t matter to Kobe. He’d be here at 6 a.m. to practice.” –Gregg Downer, Head Coach of the Lower Merion boys basketball team , Los Angeles Times, 2001.
- “Kobe wants it so badly that he rubs an awful lot of people the wrong way. But they’re not willing to understand what’s inside the guy.” — Tex Winter, “The Art Of A Beautiful Game”, 2009.
- “The superstars aren’t superstars just by accident. Michael was Michael because of what he did on and off the court; it didn’t just happen. Same with Kobe. It’s because of the time and effort and the knowledge that he gains and his willingness to listen to people.” — NBA personal trainer Tim Grover, Sports Illustrated, 2009.
- “He was always in the facility by himself, working out in the gym or practicing on the court. He was always the first one to show up. I don’t know when he slept. He would call me at 1 or 2 in the morning to go over something and then be at the track by 5 a.m. He was dedicated to being the best player in the world.” — former Lakers teammate Ronny Turiaf, ESPN.com, 2016.
- “There’s a choice that we have to make as people, as individuals. If you want to be great at something, there’s a choice you have to make. We all can be masters at our craft, but you have to make a choice. What I mean by that is, there are inherent sacrifices that come along with that. Family time, hanging out with friends, being a great friend, being a great son, nephew, whatever the case may be. There are sacrifices that come along with making that decision.” — Bryant, “Kobe Bryant’s Muse”, 2015.
If old could, if young knew
The final –and possibly most memorable– quote form legendary number 24 came the day both of his jerseys were hung at the Los Angeles Staple Center.
“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”, he told his kids and fans present during his half-time show in the L.A. Lakers – Utah Jazz game.
We tend to forget that success comes and goes, like everything in life, and by doing so, we forget to really be in the moment, but, at the end of the day, it’s all we have.
That will always be the legacy of Kobe Bryant.