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Kobe Bryant says in “last chapter” he will be like Floyd Mayweather

Oct 16, 2013, 12:13 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant AP

Before the Lakers left for China, Kobe Bryant was hanging outside a Lakers locker room with Floyd Mayweather Jr., the boxing legend.

Kobe wants to be like him. At age 36 Mayweather is still undefeated and punishing guys years his junior because he works harder and fights smarter. It’s been the model of Kobe’s career and the myth that has grown up around him — Kobe is just and old-school bad-a**.

That myth gets rounded out in an amazing feature by Lee Jenkins in the new issue of Sports Illustrated that you should go read. Right now. This is great journalism and traces Kobe from being 7-years-old in a martial arts class through Italy, high school and the Lakers up to this past summer. It is a must read, here are just a few highlights.

“I have self-doubt,” Bryant says. “I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and I’m like, ‘My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don’t have it. I just want to chill.’ We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it. You rise above it. … I don’t know how I’m going to come back from this injury. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll be horses—.” He pauses, as if envisioning himself as an eighth man. “Then again, maybe I won’t, because no matter what, my belief is that I’m going to figure it out. Maybe not this year or even next year, but I’m going to stay with it until I figure it out….”

He adopted a title for the next phase of his career, which will begin when rehab ends and he sticks that gold Lakers jersey back in his teeth, whether on opening night or Christmas Day or sometime in between. “It’s The Last Chapter,” Bryant says. “The book is going to close. I just haven’t determined how many pages are left.” He has no interest in a conversation about legacy. What excites him is evolution achieved through sports, each setback steeling a person for the next. “I’m reflective only in the sense that I learn to move forward,” Bryant says. “I reflect with a purpose.” Gather all his touchstones, look at them together, and they can gird the greatest player of his time for the biggest obstacle yet….

“Maybe I won’t have as much explosion,” Bryant says. “Maybe I’ll be slower. Maybe I’ll lose quickness. But I have other options. It’s like Floyd Mayweather in the ring. There’s a reason he’s still at the top after all these years. He’s the most fundamentally sound boxer of all time. He can fight myriad styles at myriad tempos. He can throw fast punches or off-speed punches, and he can throw them from odd angles.”

I have no doubt Kobe will come back a strong player. Over the years his game has evolved from one where he used his explosive athleticism to get his shots to one where it’s his footwork, his fundamentals that get him the ball in the place he wants (just near the elbows, for example) with just enough space to get off his shot. Even a step slower those fundamentals are there, he can adjust and be very good. Maybe not great anymore, but at least very good.

Whether the Lakers management can put a team around him that can win — and if they do bring in that talent, can Kobe adapt to not being the Alpha Dog anymore? — remains the question.

One that will be answered in the final pages of this last chapter.

  1. bleedburgandyandgold - Oct 16, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    I may not like Kobe the ball player but I admire Kobe the man more people should be as honest with himself and others and everyone should have that drive to be the best wether it’s at a sport or a parent or just as a human in general everyone can be better and should work at it all the time not just when they want to

    • antistratfordian - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      Kobe is a worse person than he is a ball player. Mamba has never been driven “to be the best” – he’s always been driven by a constant need of narcissistic supply.

      “You can’t knock the man’s legacy, you can’t knock what he’s done in basketball. What I don’t like about him is the man that he is. His personality. How he treats people. I don’t like that side of Kobe Bryant.”

      — William Henry Parker

      • urodaddy07 - Oct 16, 2013 at 10:07 PM

        Oh yeah, cause you know him so well. We don’t know any of these guys man. So stop acting like you do. It’s ok to say you don’t like his public persona, but but to extrapolate that to say what kind of person he truly is, just doesn’t make sense. So shut up

      • antistratfordian - Oct 16, 2013 at 11:26 PM

        You’re being naive, urodaddy. First of all, I’m definitely – DEFINITELY – not the first person to have said any of this about Mr. Mamba. His coaches, his teammates, his own wife, his own parents have said similar things. We’ve been exposed to all of this – public and private (some very private) – now for about 20 years.

        So it’s not just as simplistic as, “this guy doesn’t like Kobe so he’s just saying bad things about him.” No.

        And I’m not saying Kobe is evil or wicked. I’m just saying he’s a less accomplished person than he is a ball player. You have to realize that we’re talking about a player who takes pride in referring to himself an “a–hole” – and he has never just limited that to the basketball court.

      • lhollis74 - Oct 16, 2013 at 11:01 PM

        Oh, you’ve resorted to quoting and relying on a grown man who refers to himself “smush” to support your theory? William Henry!? No, it’s smush!

      • antistratfordian - Oct 16, 2013 at 11:28 PM

        “Smush” is no worse than “Kobe.” Both names were given to them as babies by their parents. Both are silly, or perfectly normal.

  2. shuttaman1990 - Oct 16, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    That’s my shooting god!

  3. mrharper21 - Oct 16, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    You don’t have to like the Lakers or even Kobe himself but one must admire the continuous drive & determination he has instilled in himself to be great over the years. He has the pedigree of a champion & has proven that 5x. He will be considered ONE of the greatest to ever play the game and should be respected in that manner …….

    On that note, I’m not looking forward to this season lol but still .. Go Lakers !!

  4. spursareold - Oct 16, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    This is going to be a hard year for Kobe. No one doubts his work ethic or his resolve, but this is an injury that ends careers, and the guys who make it back are robbed of their lift. He’s going to have to adjust his game to play more below the rim, because to actually turn the ball over and dunk it will require a running start, much like late career Shaq. Guys are going to be dunking on him and swatting his shot.

  5. ProBasketballPundit - Oct 16, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    I want to see Kobe make a run at Kareem’s 38,387 points. Seems like a long shot, but so does everything else about Kobe’s career.

  6. antistratfordian - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    “There’s a reason he’s still at the top after all these years.”

    Weak era and lots of ducking?

  7. freddysanford - Oct 17, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    I love kobe bean bryant , but his career is over .

  8. musician0785 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:35 AM

    Kobe is his given birth name. Smush is a nickname….not the same AT ALL……your Kobe hate knows no bounds….

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