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[1996] Seventeen-year-old Kobe Bryant gives insight into how his brain works and shares his feelings towards the game of basketball.

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The late great Kobe Bryant was never your average high school kid. When he was 17 years old, he already accumulated more life experience than some people do in their lifetime. It might sound pretentious, but it’s true. He spoke two languages fluently; his father was a pro ballplayer, so Kobe traveled a lot across America and Europe. He was a great student and a gifted storyteller, even back then. And the way he managed to articulate his thoughts so smoothly made him the golden boy of basketball.

After listening to this interview, I was stunned by the level of wisdom and sharpness in Kobe — ridiculous for someone at that age. The entire interview gives off a very genuine and friendly feel. This setting, along with the beautiful fireplace in the background, made Kobe open up, give insight into how his brain works and share his feelings towards the game of basketball. Truly a gem.

When the reporter asked him, what is it about this game of basketball that he most loves, Kobe responded:

Hearing the ball bounce, the feeling you get out of making a great pass. Walking on the hardwood, lacing up your sneakers, I just love it. I love jumping. I love dunking. I love hearing the crowd go UUU and AAA. And the whole is just tremendous, you know. I sound like an NBA commercial or something — I love this game. But I do, I love it.

Kobe Bryant, via ESPN

Kobe was a very versatile player from a young age. He could shoot, read the game as well as anyone, and he was crazy athletic. So when asked, what was his favorite shot, I was surprised to hear:

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Pull-up shot. I love it because you have an opportunity to make your defender dance. Do a little dance with you. Put a little move on him; the defender’s falling back; you’re taking the one spot, he thinks you’re going to the basket, he slides over, and you just pull up right in his face. I love that.

Kobe Bryant, via ESPN

Kobe was one of the great students of the game, and he thrived when he could add another piece of the puzzle to his skillset. When asked, would he rather do something spectacular offensively or defensively? Kobe replied:

Defensively. No question. Cause when I’m coming down, I can do a thousand and one dunks. But a guy is coming at you full speed, and I am there protecting the house — the guys is going up trying to dunk, and I go up, and I just catch the ball, don’t throw it out of bounds, and I can start a fast break. I love that. It gives me such a big thrill.

Kobe Bryant, via ESPN

The reporter mentioned that many people think he’s ready for the NBA, while those doubters think he still needs to put in more work for his college game. Kobe gave a very mature response, which pretty much sums up his mamba mentality. Kobe was obsessed with getting better and would exploit all of his weaknesses with pleasure.

I say thank you for the feedback. I am gonna listen and see what I need to work on. Go out there and work on my skills. Someone says, ‘Kobe you need to work on a certain aspect of your game’ Then I’m going to do it, and next time they see me play; Imma say hey, look, I worked on it. Now what? What do I have to work on now? If they have something else they want me to work on, I’ll go out there and do the same thing.

Kobe Bryant, via ESPN

I’ve never seen or heard of someone so determined to succeed and become a better version of themselves. Kobe was a unique mix of talent, hard work, and insane determination. He’s inspired millions worldwide to become the best possible versions of themselves and has left an irreplaceable trance on basketball and sports in general.

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