By JONAS TERRADOKobe Bryant dazzled millions of fans with spectacular skills and penchant for winning championships during his 20-year NBA career.
But the five titles he gave to the Los Angeles Lakers, the 81-point game, or his memorable 60-point performance before riding into the sunset may have not been possible had Bryant not chose the path of being perfect in every aspect of the game.
“If you want to do exceptional things, you have to train exceptionally,” Bryant told several members of the media including The Bulletin who took part in a training session under his watch.
The grueling session at the Kerrys Sports in Bonifacio Global City saw the media taking part in an eight-minute stretch of running, sliding and backpedaling – activities that are no stranger for Bryant.
“If everyone can do what you do then it’s not worth f****** doing,” Bryant added before leaving the gym to meet other members of the media in a press conference at the nearby Shangri-La Hotel.
It is the seventh visit of Bryant in Manila, the first since his NBA career came to an end last April. He is here for the Mamba Mentality Tour organized by Nike with the theme centering on sharing Bryant’s work ethic to Filipino fans.
Those who saw Bryant in yesterday’s activities, including the one held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum were able to reminisce the career of one of this generation’s greatest players.
Retirement has not tempered Bryant’s desire to be the best, as he remains in tip-top shape even after his final game. He keeps himself busy with several business endeavors through his company, Kobe Inc.
While coaching could give Bryant a chance to share his knowledge to players, he isn’t keen on doing such task.
“Coaching? No, I don’t think so, I mean…coaching a team of 15 players, trying to teach them to become the best version of themselves,” he later said in a 10-minute interview after the press conference. “But what works for me is storytelling. I think I could teach things that would raise the consciousness of the game moreso than if I do coaching.”
Bryant also gave his thoughts on the NBA Finals when asked in the aforementioned post-press conference interview, stressing more on little details that led to the Cleveland Cavaliers stunning win over the Golden State Warriors despite a 3-1 deficit.
“If I’m Golden State, I’ll be obsessed at getting back there next year. It’s a process of how Golden State was able to let go a 3-1 lead. You can’t brush that aside, you have to be uncomfortable, look at it, and evaluate why it had happened.”
“For Cleveland’s standpoint, I’ll look at not only what made them successful but also what needs to be mindful of, because they came very, very close to losing the series.”
He is flattered Kyrie Irving, whose three-point shot late in Game 7 propelled the Cavaliers to the title, is carrying his legacy. Irving said after Game 7 that he credited the winning trey to the Mamba Mentality he had developed, making Bryant a proud man.
“Everything I did about my career doesn’t just stay in the history books. It means that the legacy had been passed on to the next generation and hopefully the fact the he thought about that in Game 7, it mean that I’ve done something more,” Bryant shared.