I’m A Unique Player
One of the stars of the basketball world, Kobe Bryant talked about everythIng from hIs love of the sport to hIs retIrement plans In a specIal SkylIfe IntervIew.
How did you get into basketball?
It’s hard to remember life without basketball in it. My father played in the nba and then professionally in Europe. I remember falling in love with the game from the time I had memories.
When I was little in Italy my grandfather would send us copies of Bulls and Lakers games on VHS and I would just watch them over and over. Every time he sent me new tapes I would get so excited, and I would study the moves of all the players and that’s kind of how I fell in love with the sport.
We know that you spent your childhood in Italy because your father played basketball there. What does Italy mean to you? Are you considering continuing to play basketball there when your NBA career is over?
I love Italy. My wife and family have made several trips back there. I have learned so much about art, history and culture there, it has a special place in my heart. I have so many great memories of playing basketball and soccer there as a kid.
It will always be a part of my life story. In terms of where I will play in the future, I don’t think about that much… I really just focus on the year ahead and trying to win a championship. So just focusing on this year and trying to win a third championship, my vision and dreams don’t really go beyond that at this point.
We know that coach Phil Jackson is a Zen master. At what level does this affect you and the team?
Coach Jackson sees every NBA season as a journey that has its own parts. He’s really helped us as a team keep focus on the end objective. The journey can take twists and turns along the way, but coach Jackson has really helped us understand that we can use that to journey to help us as a team grow closer and get stronger. He was really the fırst one of my coaches to recognize that the season is a true journey.
This year the NBA has more European players than ever before in its history. Do you think the distinction between world basketball and the NBA is coming to an end?
I don’t get much into the comparison game of being compared to other players. I respect all the players I play against, as well as the legends of the game that played before me. I try to just appreciate the skills I’ve been blessed with and don’t compare those to other players.
I have always watched the greats like Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan, and I have studied their approach to the game, but I think that I’m a unique player and I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how I measure up against the competition. I really just try ot maximize the skills and talent that I have.
What do you think about Turkish basketball? Would you consider continuing your career in Europe or in Turkey like Allen Iverson?
I watched all of the Fıba World Championships in Turkey and followed the Usa team closely, and watched the title match where Turkey played team Usa.
I thought the Turkısh team was as good as any, and had a great run. I have heard that the Turkish fans are as passionate about basketball as anywhere in the world. I have been to a lot of soccer matches in Europe and seen the energy and passion in those stadiums, and to know that baskeball in Turkey is striving toward that level of popularity is really an exciting thing.
How would you rate the performance of the Turkish players in the NBA?
Guys like Hedo Turkoglu, Mehmet Okur, Ersan İlyasova, Semih Urden, and Omer Asık are all wonderful talents in the NBA. They have each individually added unique talents to the NBA game.
Do you think NBA basketball is gradually becoming more physical and fundamental with less emphasis on technique and aesthetics?
Recently the game has swung back to a focus on technique and skill. I think that the global emergence of basketball has led to a more diverse game. In this era, basketball has swung back to where the fundamentals are really important again.
I pride myself as a player on things like footwork, technique and playing on both ends of the court, offensively and defensively. I think that in this era you have really seen that fundamentals are really important to the game again. That is a development that I think is really good for the game as a whole.
What are your plans after basketball?
I enjoy advertising and marketing and the creative process of branding, so my hope is to somehow be ınvolved in something like that, and obviously I enjoy the energy from the business of basketball as a whole.
With a 31.6 point average in the season of 2007, he became the NBA’s point king for the third time.
BY NUMBERS KOBE
4-time All Star MVP
11 times an All-Star
12 3-pointers in a single game
8 times in the All-NBA defensive first team