King of Pop Michael Jackson called a young, 18-year-old Kobe Bryant and offered his advice. That simple gesture would help mold the rising star's work ethic, which eventually led to the creation of Mamba Mentality.
Michael Jackson's phone call
When Kobe Bryant started in the NBA, he ruffled many feathers. He tried to take matters into his hands every time instead of letting the game come to him. Because of that, he received a fair amount of bashing and criticism from fans and fellow players. A phone call from Michael Jackson helped him cope with all that. He shared how it went down in an interview with HBO's Real Sports published on USA Today!
"I was starting to get flack for being an introvert and being so serious all the time about the game. And he wanted to call and give me encouragement and say, 'Don't change for them. You have to stay focused. If you wanna be one of the all-time greats you have to study the all-time greats. You have to be obsessive about what you do and how you do it.'"
The phone call may have led to Bryant's kill or be killed mentality. It helped Kobe ignore the hate and unnecessary noise at that time. Coming from a highly successful and considered the greatest in his field, Michael Jackson's advice came at the right time.
Similarities between Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant
Kobe revealed he's been close with MJ and even went to his Neverland Ranch. But the two have more similarities than meets the eye.
Their greatness is both misunderstood. Not all fans appreciated Kobe's ruthless personality and obsession with the game. Michael's pursuit of fame and how he expressed himself sometimes rubbed the people wrong.
Jackson and Bryant started very young in their careers and grew up under great expectations, pressure, and burden. Their passion for their craft and relentless pursuit of how to get better helped elevate their status to superstardom and GOAT conversation in their respective industries.
Kobe and Michale also got involved in different issues. MJ and his alleged sexual abuse and misconduct and Kobe's rape allegations. Both cases were dismissed in court. Despite the distractions, the two still succeeded in their respective fields.
The Prince of Pop and The Black Mamba both suffered tragic endings. Michael Jackson died from cardiac arrest due to a fatal combination of medicines, and his death was ruled a homicide. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi passed away in a helicopter crash.
Even though MJ and Kobe are no longer with us, the way they lived their lives continues to inspire the young ones. And that's a testament to their greatness that will never fade away.