Curiosity was one of the main factors that drove Kobe Bryant to become one of the greatest players in NBA history. The need to learn more and break down everything to every single detail was Kobe’s personal habit. When he joined the NBA, still as a teenager, Kobe was different from other younger players because he didn’t care about anything other than to learn from the best to master his craft.
Even though Kobe learned from numerous great players, it was Michael Jordan who he observed the most and tried to pattern his game around. Jordan was known as someone who would rarely mentor younger players because most of them didn’t have the right mindset and understanding of the work and knowledge you need to obtain. Kobe was different in that sense and would go to extremes to gather all the necessary information at that time.
In an interview with ESPN, Michael Jordan’s personal coach Tim Groover shared an anecdote of when Kobe would wait for Jordan after their games to ask him everything he needed to know about a particular move Jordan did during the game. Every time the Chicago Bulls would play the Los Angeles Lakers, you could see Kobe in front of the Bulls locker room, doing everything it takes to get to Jordan.
“As early as I can remember, whenever the Lakers played the Bulls, Kobe would wait outside the tunnel for Michael to leave,” And Michael was always the last person to leave the locker room. He took forever. But Kobe would wait and wait for him.” And the rest of the Lakers players would be on the bus, waiting on Bryant — a rookie — who was waiting on Michael. But Kobe was like, ‘The bus is going to have to wait. Because I don’t know when I’m going to get this opportunity.'”Tim Groover, via ESPN
Kobe’s possession to have any interaction with Jordan caused the Lakers problems when they would have to leave because they would have to wait for Kobe to get back on the bus. Michael Jordan would take at least an hour before he would come out, but no matter how long it took, Bryant was there, waiting for him to emerge.
“I mean there was literally nobody else in the building. Lakers’ security would be like, ‘Come on, come on, Kobe, the bus is leaving,’ and you would hear different things, you know, ‘This effing kid da, da, da.'” Bryant didn’t care. He’d wait as long as he had to. And when Jordan came out from the locker room, always immaculately suited, Bryant would start peppering him with questions about footwork or turnaround jumpers.Tim Groover, via ESPN
These types of stories prove all the other stories we heard about Kobe’s obsession to be the best basketball player he could become. It’s even more fascinating when you think about the maturity and approach of a kid who started his path in the NBA. Kobe immediately understood talent doesn’t mean a lot in such a competitive league and that he would need to improve every single aspect of his game on top of his physical abilities. For Kobe, his road to greatness started with a simple question and a lot of curiosity.