Kobe Bryant may have taken a step back from basketball, but his star presence is still being felt all over the globe.
Particularly in China, where Kobe continues to tour for a mixture of promotional purposes and media appearances. The Lakers legend was attending the latter yesterday as 400 Chinese entrepreneurs and innovators gathered for a conference in Shanghai.
The Black Mamba took part in a little Q&A to finish off the seminar and it became clear that the five-time NBA champion had plenty of relevant wisdom to impart from his 20 years on the hardwood.
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As the Lakers' primary scorer for virtually the entirety of his career, Vino knows a thing or two about the pressure of taking a game-deciding shot. But, what really is pressure? How do you cope with pressure?
“Pressure isn’t real," Kobe said. What is pressure? Pressure is your ego because you want to win something, prove something, achieve something… It’s not real. It’s ego. I haven’t dealt with it since I can remember.”
The career-long Laker may have had the luxury of being immune to pressure, but he still had his share of disappointments, most notably, in the winter of his career.
In his 20 seasons with the Purple and Gold, Bryant only missed out on the playoffs five times, three of which came in his final three campaigns.
For a champion like Kobe, it must have been a bitter pill to swallow after all of the success he enjoyed. However, the 18-time All-Star insists he has always taken lessons from his hard times and faces every challenge head on.
“Enjoy hard times because they make you better. Most people try to get through hard times and don’t embrace and acknowledge what hard times are. You need to embrace the hard times in order to learn and grow.”
The Lakers could do with adopting that mantra right now. Coming off their worst season in franchise history with just 17 wins, it's fair to say the Lakers of today are a far cry from the organisation that owns 16 titles.
The young core of D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr had the benefit or Kobe's mentoring skills last season, but the 2016-17 campaign represents the first time the starlets will try and figure things out without the legendary shooting guard.
The addition of the second overall draft pick, Brandon Ingram, further strengthens the franchise moving forward. How quickly their fortunes turn around largely depends on new head coach Luke Walton and the impact he is able to have.
However, the Lakers clearly have plenty invested in their young, budding stars of tomorrow and Kobe has some advice to help them, and anybody, reach their goals.
“Rest at the end. Not in the middle.”