Former Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant etched his legacy as one of the NBA’s greatest players. Bryant’s play became fueled by his unrelenting internal drive and work ethic. Before he began his NBA career, Hall of Famer Reggie Miller quickly realized Bryant‘s unbending desire to top Michael Jordan.
Kobe Bryant’s illustrious NBA career
Bryant entered the NBA as a promising high school talent.
It didn’t take long for him to reach stardom as he became one of the game’s best talents. Behind his tremendous work ethic and talent, he put together an incredible 20-year NBA career. It pushed him to reach tremendous success, earning five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVP awards, a regular-season MVP award, 15 All-NBA Team selections, 12 NBA All-Defensive Team nods, and his two jersey numbers retired with the Lakers.
Before he began his NBA career, he quickly set his sights on topping his idol.
Kobe Bryant once dubbed himself the ‘Caramel Cat’ to top Michael Jordan
Throughout Bryant’s NBA career, he carried supreme confidence in his ability.
The former Lakers great entered the league with the unwavering internal belief that helped guide him to tremendous heights. Hall of Famer Reggie Miller quickly noticed that unique quality from Bryant during a conversation before his rookie campaign.
“I felt like I helped raise this young man,” Miller said during TNT’s Inside the NBA segment honoring Bryant last year.”Because Arn [Tellum] was my agent as well. I was the elder statesman of the firm. Arn called me up and was like ‘You mind talking to this young kid to kind of show him what the NBA is all about and how to conduct yourself.’ I am like “Yeah, sure okay I will talk to this kid.’
“Well, our conversation turned to text messages and phone calls every day because he was gathering information. We all know he wanted to be bigger than life and at that time the person was bigger than life and still is Michael Jordan. MJ and I were still in the middle of our heated moments. I didn’t have strong a relationship with MJ, but Kobe wanted to know what the intricate talking, trash-talking, and moves going on between MJ and I.
“I always referred to Michael as the black cat and I am saying the black cat is doing this and I am talking to Kobe. He was so quiet on the phone. I am like ‘Kobe?’ He’s was like ‘You know what you’re going to refer to me as the caramel cat'”
Bryant wasn’t afraid to step up to the challenge of besting Jordan. He knew the former Chicago Bulls great was the gold standard that he had to measure up to earn respect as one of the game’s greatest players.
Miller brushed aside those aspiring comments at the time, but it didn’t take long for Bryant to back up his words.
NBA Legacy forever etched in stone
There are numerous stories that speak to Bryant’s mindset that fueled his rise to stardom and etched his place among the all-time greats.
He lacked no confidence as it only drove him to get every ounce out of his skillset. His vaunted Mamba Mentality is one that many others admired or applied toward their respective games.
Bryant became the gold standard for his generation that the players after him looked up to and followed. Beyond that, he left an everlasting impact on the league that will always remain strong.