While Kobe Bryant accomplished plenty during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers and is considered among the game’s greats, he has gone on record in acknowledging he was hardly the most talented player to ever suit up in the NBA.
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Because of that, Bryant has explained, it required him to work tirelessly at his craft. While the bulk of that entailed countless hours spent in a gym, Bryant’s mind allowed for him to tap into other industries as a means of improving.
What was previously unknown and has since come to light with the release of his book, “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play,” Bryant revealed he took tap dancing. It was in response to suffering a sprained ankle in the 2000 NBA Finals.
“The worst sprained ankle of my career,” Bryant wrote in the book. He missed a game but returned to help the Lakers defeat the Indiana Pacers.
Bryant expanded on his revelation during an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live“:
“It was kept secret for obvious reasons. … I had to get them made. I couldn’t go to stores, yeah, ‘I’ll take those size 14 tap (shoes).'”
Bryant no longer considers himself a capable tap dancer, and he recalled the reactions his joining a studio drew:
“God, no. One summer, for a year there, yeah. I could tell my feet to do this, and they would actually do that. … My first class though, I walked into a studio and there’s all these 6-year-old, 7-year-old kids. Studio in Santa Monica and these kids are looking at me like, ‘What in the world is this grown ass man doing in here learning how to tap dance?’ It was fun.”
That Bryant would research how he could gain a competitive advantage, even if it meant taking up tap, is hardly a surprise. He was maniacal in gaining an edge on opponents and has a thirst for knowledge and innovation.
The secret also helps explain how Bryant managed to either avoid serious ankle injuries or recover from them earlier than most expected or projected.