A Lesson In Greatness – Kobe Bryant
A leadership strategy
I had turned my cellphone off the whole weekend, just to get the much-needed rest. But yesterday Monday was a day like no other, upon switching it on, my phone was buzzing off, text messages, notifications and much more of what had happened over the weekend. Buzzing and buzzing.
Finally, I got a chance to read the first few that came by, the sad news was getting obvious and shocking. The news that Kobe Bryant had just passed on, in a horrific helicopter crash in California.
A friend in the office could not resist to share his grief and the sad news that was, and that the legend had left behind a young family, big dream in publishing/producing and much more a legacy in the world of basketball.
From his harsh background, Kobe had already established that the future of any successful generation would need to be in the world of information, in books and in storytelling. As a pro basketball player, with over 20 years in service, he was later to get the nickname, Black Mamba, KB24, Vino, Showboat, Little Flying Warrior and much to more to his fans all over the world. He knew basketball, he knew how to win, but also, he knew that all wins come from a series of training, hard work and perseverance. The leadership in his strides were obvious even in the game where he was to play in positions of Small Forward and Shooting Guard.
He went on to become the 5-time NBA champion, 2-time NBA Finals MVP, NBA Most Valuable Player, 2-time scoring champion. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, he won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. men’s basketball team, occasionally referred to as “The Redeem Team”. He led the Lakers to two more championships in 2009 and 2010, winning the Finals MVP award on both occasions. His awards and accolades are what inspired many to love him, admire him and make him such a star. He was also an Oscar winner.
In May 12, 1997. The Los Angeles Lakers were playing in Game 5 of their second round series against the Utah Jazz. Still young, tall and skinny teenaged new player, it was this game that set Kobe to the path that he was until his passing two days ago. It was a life changing game. Most people remember it because of how spectacularly bad Kobe was that night: 4 for 14 from the floor (0 for 6 from three-point range). Now, the only reason he saw extended minutes was due to a number of Laker misfortune—Bryan Scott missed the game with a sprained wrist, Robert Horry was ejected, and Shaquille O’Neal fouled out with under two minutes left in the game. After averaging around 15 minutes per game during the regular season, suddenly, the game belonged to Kobe.
He promptly launched four airballs in the game’s closing minutes. What a disappointment. When reporters as usual came to the locker room to find out more, he responded, “I had some good looks,” he said. “I just didn’t hit the shots.”
That was it. He said it without a hint of regret or self-doubt; it sounded smart, but not what the reporters were expecting.
What he was saying, in effect, was ‘this is a chapter I have to get through in order to write a book worth reading.’
This was not just a miss, but a start of an illustrious career, and a journey of what would one day become known as the “Mamba Mentality,” an approach to mental toughness that he made famous later in his career.
21 years later, Kobe would launch his book, “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” that would go on to illustrate his approach, the process and the craft that he employed to bring about his success.
It is the “Mamba Mentality” that would lead him to push for the education of young racial minorities, young people with a dose of resilience, positive attitude towards their challenges and circumstances.
He further went on to launch Granity Studios an award-winning multimedia company that focuses on creating new ways to tell stories around sports.
He had his children participate in sports, for the win, the fun and mostly for the discipline that sports brings about – The Mamba Mentality.
This mentality also lead him to build a sports academy where he would teach skill, effort and endurance to his future stars.
There is just something about a star who pushes for all the limits, and comes back to train upcoming generations. Kobe’s legacy now goes beyond NBA basketball star, Olympian but it includes being an investor in businesses, young peoples lives, a producer and mostly a writer. His books have become bestsellers
His kids books are an inspiration, a challenge and a story of a father to his children, teaching them and guiding them through life in a story telling manner. Imagination is a key ingredient in success.
As the memorials and tributes to Kobe, his daughter and all others fill your social media feed this week, pay attention to what they’ll all have in common—Kobe’s unwavering confidence in himself and his commitment to doing the hard, unseen work that Greatness requires. The Mentality. It has impacted generations of fans and players. There’s no way it can be argued that something good can come from a passing. But if you commit right now to learn lessons from his career, Kobe will smile that sly grin. I just know it.
Kobe Bryant’s death reminds us that life is indeed short. Make the most of the opportunities that come your way. Success and failure are both great fuel to the brain in the journey of building a great legacy. His life reminds us that we can make the most of our days if we choose to—all it takes is a short memory for the failures that can fuel our success and the courage that drives continuous improvement, making our lives memorable in all the right ways.