Kobe Bryant's Untold Stories

I have always been extremely curious. I had a great teacher in high school that sparked my curiosity in writing. The reason I thought writing was important is because there are things in stories that can help me be a better basketball player. Be a better teammate. Be a better leader. Things that help me understand emotions better. [5:45]

 I had a purpose. I wanted to be one of the best basketball players to ever play. Anything else that was outside of that lane I didn’t have time for. I made that deal with myself at 13 years old. [6:25]

Where did your inspiration come from? The challenge. I would watch Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan play. I would see them do unbelievable things. And I’d ask myself, “Can I get to that level?” I don’t know. But I want to find out. I had curiosity to see where I could push this thing. [6:42] 

Do you think you had an edge over everybody else because your focus was on one thing? I do. Basketball was the most important thing. Everything I saw, books I read, people I talked to—everything was done to try to learn how to become a better basketball player.When you have that point of view then the world becomes your library to help you become better at your craft. [8:35]

It was easy to size other players up in the NBA. I found that a lot of guys played for financial stability. Once they got that financial stability the passion, the work ethic, and the obsessiveness was gone. Once I saw that I thought, “This is going to be like taking candy from a baby. No wonder Michael Jordan wins all these fucking championships.” [12:00]

I see other players take vacations just to take a vacation. Or hang out just to hang out. I never did that. I didn’t do that because when I retire I didn’t want to say, “I wish I had done more.” [13:51]

Were there other players who you thought were as crazy as you were? I went to GOAT mountain. I talked to Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Oscar Robinson, Jerry West, Bill Russell. I would ask them: What did you do? What were your experiences? What was that process like? I went to them to understand the ins and outs of the game. To figure out their level of detail and obsessiveness. That’s what I did. [14:30] 

[How Kobe fixed weaknesses in his game]: When I shot five airballs in the playoffs and I asked, “Why did those airballs happen?” The year before I was in high school. We only played thirty-five games. In the NBA you play back to back, to back. I didn’t have the legs. I have to get stronger. I have to train differently. I need to tailor my weight training to an 82 game season. I looked at it with rational. I shot airballs because my legs weren’t there. Next year they will be there. That was it. [20:24] 

[How Kobe decides which businesses to get involved with]: Do you understand the business? Is it a business you can help in some way? Are the leaders people you believe in? Are they obsessives? [30:51] 

When it was time to play I’d switch my mode into something else. It was the equivalent of Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator picking up the dirt and smelling it. It is go time. That was my mental switch. It was like an actor getting ready for a film. You put yourself in that cage. When you are in that cage you are that character. Then when you leave there you can be something completely different. [51:30]

I would play the Halloween Theme Song over and over again in my headphones before the game. It was important because Michael Meyers was devoid of emotion. No pressure. No hype. Just a stone-cold killer. [52:30]

Everybody told me that I’d get depressed when I retire. I’m fine. My competitiveness kicked in. I am going to do something in the next 20 years that is better than these last 20. You might not understand it but I am doing that. [56:45]

I am not writing every word of the novel. I am not animating the films. What I have to do now is to make sure the obsessives we bring in are challenging themselves to do the best job that they can do. [57:12]

If we have a project and you think you can do it — that is not the project we want. The projects that make you say I don’t know if I can do that. I don’t know how to do that. Those are the things we want because through that curiosity you will reach a level that you didn’t think was possible. [57:45]

[Traits Kobe wants in the people he works with]: They have to be obsessives. They have to have a historical knowledge base. I love people who understand the history of their industry. [1:00:13]

Full video here: Kobe Bryant Untold Stories with Patrick Bet-David