On Saturday afternoon, Kobe Bryant and Nike Los Angeles hosted the “Kobe X Blackout Experience” at the Shrine Expo Hall to debut Bryant’s latest signature shoe. The event invited fans to come out for an interactive experience, to try on Bryant’s shoes, take a walk through Bryant’s art gallery of inspirations and watch a dunk contest. Plus, professional basketball player Skylar Diggins hosted a 10-mintute question and answer session with Bryant. A transcript of their conversation is below.
Q: A lot of talk has been made about this quote you said, ‘At the end of 2003, my game was complete.’ What did you mean by that?
Kobe Bryant: It means it had all the facets. My game was complete in the sense that I had the long range game that I felt comfortable with, the mid range game that I felt comfortable with, the post, defending the perimeter defending screen and roll, chasing off the screens, defending post ups. I had all of it, so now it’s just a matter of perfecting, but up until that point I still had things that I had to work on. 2003 I had it, so now it’s about mastering it.
Q: When you got to that point, how did you get better from there?
Kobe Bryant: Continual curiosity, trying to figure out different things about the game that I could use to make my teammates better as a leader. how do i get them to a level where they become curious about how to improve themselves, they become just as driven just as determined. What are the buttons that I have to push to bring that out of them
Q: Biggest lessons you’ve learned this season and how would you challenge yourself as you prepare for the return of next season?
Kobe Bryant: The biggest lesson is to take it step by step. For example, with this shoulder injury, when the doctor told me it’s 9 months, it was kind of like, ‘Man another 9 months?’ But, what happens from that point forward is what do I do day to day and just think about that, so all I can think about now is the next thing which is Tuesday, which hopefully I get the sling off on Tuesday, start rehab on Wednesday, and just kind of take one swing at a time to chop that tree.
Q: How do you stay so motivated?
Kobe Bryant: This is what I do, like I’m passionate about it, like I love what I do. So I enjoy it, I enjoy trying to figure out what I can and can’t do. Like I don’t know if I can come back from it, but I bet- I tell you what, Ima die trying.
Q: Where does that competitive nature come from? Is that something you developed over time or you felt that was something you were born with?
Kobe Bryant: Uhh I don’t know, as far as I can remember I’ve always been the kid that challenges things all the time, all the time. And It made me kind of the awkward kid to play with you know what I mean because I was always ultra competitive, and I was probably born with it.
Q: In addition to ‘Black Mamba,’ you are also referred to as ‘Vino.’ Talk to us about the role that maturity has played in your basketball journey.
Kobe Bryant: Well maturity in basketball, you have perspective, you also need to understand how to communicate with your teammates a lot better as opposed to just driving them all the time. Your maturity starts to step back and kind of understand that everybody has individual situations, you know what I mean, but from the Vino aspect it’s just, fine wine gets better with time. Right?
Q: Where did you get that nickname from?
Kobe Bryant: I know a lot of creative people and my good friend of mine is a brilliant writer. And after one game where I went out and went crazy, he decided to call me Vino and it just stuck.
Q: On to the shoe (Kobe X). We know details are extremely important to you on and off the court. Talk about the creative aspect that went into designing this shoe.
Kobe Bryant: There is a lot that went into this shoe, from the start from my game. So my game, I’ve been able to blend a lot of different forms, a lot of different styles, so when it came time to create 10, I thought it might be cool to take some of the technologies that have been revolutionary within the Nike company and put them all into one shoe, put them all into one product. So these are technologies that normally don’t communicate with each other. Whether it’s the free technology, the air, the zoom, they normally don’t work hand in hand. But how can we blend them together so they can work seamlessly together and also add some new technology in them to create one masterful shoe that combines all of them. So that was the idea, and that’s what we decided to build.
Q: You’ve been quoted as saying, ‘When you really feelin’ it in a workout sometimes you workout until you blackout.’ Talk to use about what those blackout workouts are like.
Kobe Bryant: Well the Blackout shoe ain’t for everybody. Lazy people can’t wear them. It’s not for you. You know what I mean. Blackout is an attitude. It’s a way of life. No matter what it is that you do. I don’t care if you’re a carpenter, a basketball player, a doctor, doesn’t matter. You focus 100% on what you’re doing on that moment, nothing else matters. That’s what blackin’ out means to me.
Q: You’ve spent your entire career with the LA Lakers. Talk to us about what’s so special about the city of LA and what it means to you.
Kobe Bryant: Look, I’ve been a Laker fan since I was a kid, like a die hard Laker fan. So when I came to the Lakers I just felt very fortunate to be able to represent this organization. The way that Magic represented it, the way that James, Cap and B. Scott and AC, The way they represented it so I felt a huge sense of pride to be a part of this organization and the second thing is, what am I going to do? Cause we’re losing now I’m gunna ask for a trade to go somewhere else? We don’t do that.
Q: Talk about the role your fans have played. The Mamba Army is out here in full force but you go to away games in New York and you go to Miami and people are wearing that Kobe jersey. These fans have been so loyal; What does that mean to you?
Kobe Bryant: Well, I think it means more to me than other players who see their jerseys out in the stands cause my career has been a long career but we’ve also been through a lot of stuff, you know, good and bad and all that stuff. So there’s a certain, I think, DNA that we have, a certain mentality that we have, when you’re a part of the Mamba Army; It’s the understanding that we have with each other that no matter what we go through, we continue to fight through it right. We continue to battle we continue to come back on top. So it means a lot to me to see them representing.
Q: So we got the Mamba Army here, you and including myself. You’re the commander in chief, so what mission do you have for us? What’s our challenge?
Kobe Bryant: The challenge is the constant to continue to learn, continue to learn, to continue to ask questions, continue to figure things out, continue to ask why things happen a certain way, continue to better yourself right. Cause when that happens you have no choice but to achieve greatness, it comes as a bi-product of that. So continue to challenge yourself.