While he is one of the most polarizing stars the NBA has ever seen, no one could ever deny that Kobe Bryant is a legendarily great player. What makes a player truly great however, can differ depending on who is defining it.
Some may look at a player’s statistics throughout his or her career, or the number of championships and awards someone has won, but everyone has their own definition. And for Bryant, his definition has nothing to do with on-court performance.
He recently sat down with Lewis Howes and spoke about the ability to inspire people as being how he would define greatness:
“I think the definition of greatness is to inspire the people next to you. I think that’s what greatness is, or should be. It’s not something that lives and dies with one person. It’s how can you inspire a person to then in turn inspire another person that then inspires another person. That’s how you create something that I think lasts forever. I think that’s our challenge as people, is to figure out how our story can impact others and motivate them in a way to create their own greatness.”
That is certainly an interesting definition, but also speaks to the impact a player can have. Motivating and inspiring others to be greater is a different level of greatness and Bryant has undoubtedly done that.
Plenty of current players have named Bryant as their favorite player growing up. Joel Embiid mentioned watching him in the 2009 NBA Finals as his inspiration for playing basketball, while NFL star Richard Sherman’s recovery from a torn Achilles was boosted by Bryant’s words.
Regardless of your definition, there is no doubt that Kobe was and is still great. And by his own definition, he fits the bill just as well.