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The Wisdom of Kobe Bryant

“No man is truly great who is great only in his lifetime. The test of greatness is the page of history.” – William Hazlitt

To be sure, there have been basketball players with more God-given ability than Kobe Bryant. The history of basketball is strewn with stories of playground legends who, for one reason or another, wasted their talents and failed to reach the coveted mantle of true greatness. Kobe’s natural skills made him a professional basketball player – but it was his work ethic, determination, mindset and sheer force of will that made him a legend of our time.

The numbers, of course, speak for themselves: 20 seasons; 33,643 points (25 ppg); 5 NBA championships; 1 NBA MVP (2008); 11 All-NBA First Team selections; 18 NBA All-Star selections; 2 NBA scoring titles; 9 NBA All-Defensive First Team selections; 2 Olympic gold medals, etc.

But Kobe Bryant’s greatness goes way beyond statistics. It was his attitude and approach to life that inspired his fans – and will continue to inspire us – for generations after his sudden passing.

Here are some of Kobe Bryant’s pearls of wisdom:


“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.”

“Haters are a good problem to have. Nobody hates the good ones. They hate the great ones.”

“We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.”

“This is the moment I accept the most challenging times will always be behind me and in front of me.”

“Leadership is lonely … I’m not going to be afraid of confrontation to get us to where we need to go. There’s a big misconception where people thinking winning or success comes from everybody putting their arms around each other and singing kumbaya and patting them on the back when they mess up, and that’s just not reality. If you are going to be a leader, you are not going to please everybody. You have to hold people accountable. Even if you have that moment of being uncomfortable.”

“I don’t talk trash often, but when I do, I go for the jugular.”

“The moment you give up, is the moment you let someone else win.”

“Can I jump over two or three guys like I used to? No. Am I as fast as I used to be? No, but I still have the fundamentals and smarts. That’s what enables me to still be a dominant player. As a kid growing up, I never skipped steps. I always worked on fundamentals because I know athleticism is fleeting.”

“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.”

“When we are saying this cannot be accomplished, this cannot be done, then we are short-changing ourselves. My brain, it cannot process failure. It will not process failure. Because if I have to sit there and face myself and tell myself ‘you are a failure,’ I think that is almost worse than dying.”

“It’s the one thing you can control. You are responsible for how people remember you—or don’t. So don’t take it lightly.”

“Once you know what failure feels like, determination chases success.”

“We can always kind of be average and do what’s normal. I’m not in this to do what’s normal.”

“The beauty in being blessed with talent is rising above doubters to create a beautiful moment.”

“I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. No matter what the injury – unless it’s completely debilitating – I’m going to be the same player I’ve always been. I’ll figure it out. I’ll make some tweaks, some changes, but I’m still coming.”

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