Throughout his entire NBA career, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant always received comparisons to Michael Jordan. Bryant was a fiery competitor, and MJ is the only person to ever have his same passion and focus.
However, Kobe’s trademark traits, also known as the Mamba Mentality, didn’t go away once he stepped off the court or went over to the bench. In fact, he had it on full display while sitting just a couple of seats down from another Michael Jordan: superstar actor Michael B. Jordan.
Kobe Bryant was focused on being the best during his legendary Los Angeles Lakers career
Kobe Bryant’s competitiveness was as intense as it gets during his iconic Lakers tenure.
His former teammates and coaches have since come out with countless stories, detailing his incredible focus.
“I came in one time … and I heard the ball bouncing. No lights were on. Practice was at about 11, it was probably about 9, 9:30,” Byron Scott, who played with Kobe on the Lakers for one season before later coaching him at the end of his career, said to Business Insider in 2017. “And I go out to the court and I look, and there’s Kobe Bryant. He’s out there shooting in the dark. And I stood there for probably about 10 seconds, and I said, ‘This kid is gonna be great.’”
All in all, Kobe’s dedication was just at a level not many others could reach.
“We started working out, and I realized what a blackout workout was,” former NBA player Caron Butler said of his 2004 introduction to Bryant’s work ethic while appearing on The Long Shot podcast earlier this year. “It was like, you’re getting your reps in, you’re getting 50 shots from each spot, 100 makes off the move. You’re getting all this s***, then you get so tired you see spots. You blacking out. And that was a blackout. … (After the workout) you go get you something to eat, take about three, four hours to yourself. And you come back, and you black out again.”
Bryant’s passion, though, didn’t just shut off once he stepped off the court.
Michael B. Jordan witnessed Kobe’s intense focus at an NBA game
Superstar actor Michael B. Jordan recently sat down with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report, and he discussed some of his favorite memories from sitting courtside at NBA games. He then shared one from when he sat a couple of seats down from Kobe (Jordan didn’t say whether this was during or after Bryant’s career, so it’s unclear whether this occurred while the Lakers legend was still playing in LA, or if he was just attending the game as a fan).
“He’s so locked in, he doesn’t break,” Jordan, who once starred in an Apple TV commercial with Bryant, said during a Dec. 13 interview. “So, saying ‘What’s up’ to him in warmup lines, all that good stuff was cool, but then when the game was on, sitting two seats away from him, it’s just kind of like how focused he is on what he’s in the middle of and what he’s doing. Even when you try to [say], ‘I’m still sitting here. Same guy who you said “what’s up” to. We know each other; we actually worked together. All that good stuff. Nothing? OK, cool.’ It’s like you respect the workplace and the drive of what mission he’s out on right now.”
Jordan essentially didn’t know how else to describe the experience other than saying that Bryant was just “so locked in.”
“It was always impressive and inspiring,” he said.
Mamba’s extreme focus made him a basketball legend. However, it also helped him outside of the sport.
Kobe Bryant’s dedication to greatness extended well beyond the NBA court
Despite always being locked-in while playing or practicing at a gym, Bryant also had tremendous success off the court.
He won an Oscar for his animated short, Dear Basketball, and authored multiple New York Times-bestselling books as well.
Bryant also launched “Mamba Sports Academy,” where, as USA Today notes, he “hosted workouts for NBA and WNBA players, coached his 13-year-old daughter’s AAU girls’ basketball team, and monitored the growth of its training facilities.”
All in all, Kobe was just a passionate human and was dedicated to being the best he could be at whatever he was doing. That dedication then eventually led to Michael B. Jordan getting an up-close look at his greatness.