What has Kobe taught us — the legacy

If you saw Kobe’s farewell game a couple of nights back then you witnessed the final moments of the master, the legend in action. He definitely wasn’t going to end his career on a low and certainly wasn’t willing to let go of this last chance to do what he loves to do at the grandest stage of all. After his 20th season in action, Kobe decided to hang his boots and just show everyone one last time that he is the master of this game — just in case anyone had forgotten.

It is so easy to say that an individual is gifted after putting up a show like he did for 20 consecutive years. And clearly he is — but we all know what separated him from the other athletes in NBA is his drive to succeed, his drive to displace Michael Jordan from the top spot in all-time greats of the sport. Kobe is the perfect example of this quote — people are rewarded in public for what they continuously practice in private.

Kobe Bryant understood that we all get what we tolerate and he certainly was not going to tolerate the last game of his career to be a mediocre one.

This guy knew the secret : repetition is the mother of all skills. He is known for heading back to the gym for shooting practice AFTER the game is over. He’d make his team-mates play him one-on-one. He’d show up in practice by himself at 5 am in high school. He still counts all his shots made in practice and only stops when he gets to 400!

Kobe is quoted saying You’ve got to work at it. This is what you’re supposed to do. I mean, if you’re not comfortable with something and you feel like you can tweak some things, you’ve got to work on them. It doesn’t matter when you work on them. You’ve just got to get it done. You’ve got to work it out.

Relating this back to the business world — Kobe is very smart from a branding stand-point in a lot of ways. He knows that the jokes of even the most cynical of the nature like “he took 50 shots last night” (which I think has only happened 4 times in NBA history, so that is intense) gets forgotten in a couple of years. What we will hear after few years which is going to be repeated thousand times is that “Kobe scored 60 points in his last game.”

And I think that some of the people who run the best brands in the world don’t sweat the short term narrative because they are smart enough to play the chess moves to understand when that wears off. They know that people only remember the end result. So understanding ‘what sticks’ vs what actually is remembered years later is something many should deploy against their businesses.

See, in life — in relationships, in sports, in business, whatever — what people remember, is The Beginning and The End. What sticks with us is how we start, and how we finish.

Thanks for being such a sterling example through-out your career of what it takes, Kobe.