In a Players Tribune’s article Obsession Is Natural, Kobe Bryant explains what he did to make him a shark that devoured whoever dared to challenge him. In his own words:
“When I checked into my hotel room later that night and saw the 35 on SportsCenter, I lost it. I flipped the table, threw the chairs, broke the TV. I thought I had been working hard.”
“I needed to work harder. I did. On March 19, 1999, Iverson put 41 points and 10 assists on me in Philadelphia. Working harder wasn’t enough. I had to study this man maniacally.”
Kobe realized something was missing and that ingredient was becoming a student of the game: to become obsessed about every part of it.
“I obsessively read every article and book I could find about AI. I obsessively watched every game he had played, going back to the IUPU All-American Game. I obsessively studied his every success, and his every struggle. I obsessively searched for any weakness I could find.”
“This led me to study how great white sharks hunt seals off the coast of South Africa. The patience. The timing. The angles.”
Others believed Bryant was young and successful, but he held himself to higher standard: becoming master of the NBA ocean. Kobe said winning wasn’t enough: he wanted to have total control over his own destiny...and over those whoever dared to challenge him.
“But I wasn’t satisfied after the win. I was annoyed that he had made me feel that way in the first place.”
“I swore, from that point on, to approach every matchup as a matter of life and death. No one was going to have that kind of control over my focus ever again.
“I will choose who I want to target and lock in. I will choose whether or not your goals for the upcoming season compromise where I want to be in 20 years.”
This season Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson surrender their title of being the future of the Miami Heat to the 2017 draft pick. They are no longer rookies, but veterans in their third NBA season, who will not be forgiven for mistakes that novices make.
A Heat team of Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Winslow/Richardson, Hassan Whiteside is still in their prime with only Dragic (31) and Johnson (30) being 30 years-old or above. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the oldest team in the NBA, which indicates experience, up to a point, does matter in the NBA.
If Winslow has a breakout season to reach the levels he is capable of, Miami would have a chance to duplicate their winning ways in last season’s second half. Waiters radiates an infectious, self-confident swagger which every winner has, while JJ is the ultimate teammate and “glue guy” who can defend, handle the ball and score when needed.
The rotation group, lead by Rodney McGruder, brings a toughness to the floor by never backing down to any challenge on the court. McGruder knows Paul George is an All-Star, but he doesn’t care: neither do any other Heat players.
May, June, July, August, September remain before the season begins in October. The Heat players can either sit by the pool believing they are “young and successful,” or obsessively work to find the slightest weaknesses of whoever dares to confront them. Kobe worked hard in the gym, but he took his game to another level outside of it: an elite one few players reach.
He studied film, read books and articles about his opponents. He became a world-class player physically and mentally, who demanded total control. Sounds like another person who happens to run the Heat organization: Pat Riley.
Besides Udonis Haslem, none of the current Miami Heat members have experienced the ultimate success, in the basketball world, of raising the championship trophy above their heads. Riley talks about raising the team’s game to that level. He believes the current Miami squad has the potential to accomplish the tough task of being the last team standing out of 30 candidates. The players have five months to learn the true nature of obsession doesn’t only lie in the physical realm, but in the mental one as well.