At the “Kobe Up Close” event this past week, a fan informed the Lakers superstar and future Hall-of-Famer, “Whenever I think I can’t achieve a goal, I think ‘WWKD’ – What Would Kobe Do?”
The statement received mixed reactions from the Nokia Theater audience, but the peaks and valleys of Kobe Bryant’s career do provide inspiration for both young and old. From the growing pains he encountered coming straight out of high school to a five-time champion recovering from an Achilles rupture, Kobe’s mentality has never changed.
Despite all the accomplishments, the way Bryant has continually responded to challenges offer valuable advice and lessons:
“If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.” Despite conventional wisdom that high school players weren’t emotionally or physically mature for the NBA, Kobe Bryant became the first guard to be selected out of high school in the 1996 NBA Draft.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it’s sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot.” Kobe didn’t play much the first two seasons of his career, but winning was and still is his main priority. When he finally got the opportunity, he didn’t disappoint and helped his team win three straight championships.
“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.” There was constant chatter that Kobe couldn’t win without Shaquille O’Neal. It was a struggle as the Lakers failed to make the playoffs and were eliminated in the first round, but Bryant found his way again — winning his first Most Valuable Player award and two consecutive championships.
“If you see me in a fight with a bear, pray for the bear.” For the last couple of seasons, many critics have said that Father Time is undefeated and Kobe is done. At the age of 34 and in his seventeenth season, Bryant averaged 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. Pray for Father Time because Bryant is going to retire on his own terms.
While Kobe’s challenges come from the basketball court, there are stages of his journey that are similar to our own — starting a career, waiting years for a promotion, accepting new responsibilities, and retiring on a high note. Unlike most superstars in the NBA, Bryant’s journey has had its fair share of highs and lows that fans are able to relate to with their own lives in some form.
Everyone strives to achieve their goals in life, but there are challenges along the way that create self-doubt. Bryant’s fearless approach to achieving his goals by any means necessary not only serve as inspiration for others, but provide many with that extra boost of confidence to push forward. Through consistent hard work and dedication, no challenge is insurmountable as Bryant has demonstrated throughout his career and his impact on others ultimately goes beyond the basketball court.
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