Today Yahoo! Sports published an interview with Kobe Bryant that centered on his relationship with Michael Jackson. Ever since the two met when Bryant was 18, the basketball star says he "has long been fortified by the lessons Jackson instilled about the burden of honoring true talent, about the ways to open your mind to be smarter, sharper and insatiable in the chase," adding that "his on-court mentality comes from advice offered by the King of Pop."
"It sounds weird, I guess, but it's true: I was really mentored by the preparation of Michael Jackson," Bryant told Yahoo! Sports.
The story is pretty long, so we took the liberty of offering you an abridged version. After the jump, read what Bryant learned from Jackson.
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1. Preparation: The mental prep Bryant uses, he says, is not an athletic one. "It was all the validation that I needed - to know that I had to focus on my craft and never waver. Because what he did - and how he did it - was psychotic. He helped me get to a level where I was able to win three titles playing with Shaq because of my preparation, my study. And it's only all grown."
2. Focus: "Guys have voices now, want to build brands," Bryant said. "I don't identify with it, but I understand where it's going, why it's going there. That's not for me. I focus on one thing and one thing only - that's trying to win as many championships as I can." Honor the craft, he says.
3. Genius is in the details. On the night before every game, he still downloads video into his iPhone from Mike Procopio in Chicago about how opponents may attack him, the way the defenders will rotate to him, the spots where he can feed his teammates the ball - small things beyond the Lakers' own scouting reports, another edge. Sometimes, they'll email thoughts back and forth past midnight, which isn't such a big deal because Bryant seldom sleeps more than three hours a night.
4. Utimately, you compete with yourself--with your own standards, your own limits, than someone else's. "That's how I am," Bryant said. "That's what made me tough. I didn't need other guys to push me. This is me. I'm like this with you, and I'm like this without you. Michael [Jackson] was the same way. That was our connection."