5 Reasons Why Kobe Had To Work Harder Than Michael Jordan
September 24, 2014 - 7:36 pm
Straight Outta High School
As the brash, bold son of a former NBA player, Kobe Bryant held a press conference to let the world know he was the man at just 17-years-old. To explain that in Drake terms, Kobe said he was the greatest before he knew he was. Even before winning the Slam Dunk Contest, the ’96 Draft, or taking Brandy to the prom, Bryant was watching the throne, hungry for Mike’s spot at the top. His first claim at the king was doing something MJ never did: make the jump from prep school to the pros.
Bryant saw limited minutes his first season, but was a bonafide superstar by the time he was 19 (when he made his first All-Star appearance, breaking Magic Johnson’s record for youngest player to start in an All Star Game). No way he was doing all that in such a short span, if he wasn’t locked in the gym.
Why So Serious?
Kobe’s a way better interview now that he’s in the twilight of his career, but he’s also a better teammate. Even as a youngster, Bryant was notorious for being quiet on road trips, staying in his hotel room when teammates partied (or even ate dinner) and being a total introvert. One assistant remembers a trip when Shaq was on a flight doing the popular 90’s dance “the Macarena” and Kobe was in the back of the plane, watching tapes on who else? Michael Jordan. Kobe’s was wired to learn from and (attempt to) outdo Mike from the jump.
Playing In Shaq’s Shadow
The love/hate relationship between Shaq and Kobe will forever be a topic in the NBA. Could they have won more championships together? Did Kobe really force Shaq out of town? So many questions that perhaps we’ll never have concrete answers to. One thing’s for sure: Once O’Neal left Hollywood, Kobe had to win a ring or else the first three he won would’ve been meaningless. In terms of legacy, anyway. Mike never had the hurdle of playing second option to another player, let alone one of the greatest to ever play. Kobe knew that if he wanted to go down in history as greater than MJ, he’d have to first win without Shaq.
Thug motivation. Word to Jeezy.
Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become A Villain
After everything that happened in Colorado, Shaq dipping out to the Heat, Kobe decided it was time to embrace the hate. For every reason that same mentality didn’t work with LeBron, it absolutely favored King Kobe. He’s well aware of his public perception, then and now. People love him or love to hate him. There is no in between. For the same reasons you rooted for Scarface, applauded Heath Ledger’s Joker and loved Hulk Hogan more when he turned heal, you loved, or loved hating, Kobe Bryant.
However, there’s no fun in loving or hating a bad guy that can’t win. The draw with Kobe was in watching him soar (above MJ’s heights) or fail. He knew that. Either way, with him or against him (perhaps even more the latter), he fed off the energy.
We all dreamed of being like Mike, growing up. Kobe Bryant obsessed over it. Literally. There’s a reason why he couldn’t play with an often out of shape Shaq, why Dwight Howard goofy-ass is gone from L.A., why a young O.J. Mayo, who many compared to Bryant coming out of high school, thought Bryant meant 3 p.m. instead of 3 a.m. and shamefully missed his chance to workout with his idol.
Up until now, nothing’s mattered more to Bryant than being better than Mike. Despite his greatness, Jordan was an avid partier during his heyday. Kobe knew that. Being the basketball-ninja that he is, Bryant looks for weaknesses in all his opponents. The party life, in Kobe’s mind, was MJ’s.
The only way to be better than him, was to become a maniac about everything they both both did equally well. And to work tirelessly at perfecting whatever MJ couldn’t. Did it work? The numbers will speak for themselves when Kobe hangs up his Nike’s for good. Did Bryant try till his knees gave out? If you haven’t figured that part out yet, we can’t help you.