Kobe Bryant is a talented man – and he certainly knows it.
The NBA’s “most ferocious competitor” hits the cover of GQ‘s March issue doing what he does best – looking good while showing off his handle.
Inside the magazine full of dapper gentleman, Kobe sets the record straight on a few issues – namely, people labeling him as selfish, as well as the issue with basketball players who are intimidated by his “nature.”
He admits he may be less enjoyable to play with, but according to the Black Mamba, that’s neither here nor there, as all that really matters is his ability to “destroy” on the court.
Check out a few excerpts from his interview below.
On players who are intimidated by his ego:
“Does my nature make me less enjoyable to play with? Of course,” Kobe Bryant says of his ego and if that has deterred star players from coming to the Lakers. “Of course it does. Is it possible that some top players in the league are intimidated by that? Yes. But do I want to play with those players? Does the Laker organization want those specific players? No. Magic. Jordan. Bird. We all would have been phenomenal teammates. This organization wants players who will carry this franchise to another five or six championships. The player who does that has to be cut from the same cloth. And if they’re not cut from that cloth, they don’t belong here.”
On being called selfish:
Bryant finds it infuriating when people call him selfish. “I chose to extend my deal with the Lakers to play with Shaquille O’ Neal and win championships. I knew what I could have done individually. I could have gone anywhere and destroyed people. I gave that up to win championships.” Bryant expresses no interest whatsoever in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s point record. “I could play for five or six more years if I wanted to. But I don’t. This year and next year is enough. If my goal had been going after Jabbar, I would have done that. I would have gone to a different team and scored 37 points a game. But that was never my goal. My goal is to sit at the table with Michael and Magic, having won the same number of titles.”
On his beef with coach Phil Jackson and Shaq:
“I was like a wild horse that had the potential to become Secretariat, but who was just too fucking wild,” Bryant says of why former coach Phil Jackson would say negative things about him. “So part of that was him trying to tame me. He’s also very intelligent, and he understood the dynamic he had to deal with between me and Shaq. So he would take shots at me in the press, and I understood he was doing that in order to ingratiate himself to Shaq. And since I knew what he was doing, I felt like that was an insult to my intelligence. I was like, ‘Fuck him. I’m out here busting my ass. I’m killing myself.’ And it became insulting. Yet at the same time, it drove me at a maniacal pace. Because either consciously or unconsciously, he put a tremendous amount of pressure on me to be efficient, and to be great, and to be great now.” Although Bryant and O’Neal had their differences, he acknowledges O’Neal was a force to be reckoned with during their winning seasons. “He had years where he was lazy. But during those three championships we won? To say he was a beast would be an understatement. To say I didn’t learn things from him that I still use to this day would be a disservice.”
On his 2003 sexual assault charge:
Bryant credits religion for helping him get through his sexual-assault charge from 2003. “I started to consider the mortality of what I was doing,” he says. “The one thing that really helped me during that process—I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic—was talking to a priest. It was actually kind of funny: He looks at me and says, ‘Did you do it?’ And I say, ‘Of course not.’ Then he asks, ‘Do you have a good lawyer?’ And I’m like, ‘Uh, yeah, he’s phenomenal.’ So then he just said, ‘Let it go. Move on. God’s not going to give you anything you can’t handle, and it’s in his hands now. This is something you can’t control. So let it go.’ And that was the turning point.”
On whether or not he has friends:
“I have ‘like minds,’” he says when asked if he has friends. “You know, I’ve been fortunate to play in Los Angeles, where there are a lot of people like me. Actors. Musicians. Businessmen. Obsessives. People who feel like God put them on earth to do whatever it is that they do. Now, do we have time to build great relationships? Do we have time to build great friendships? No. Do we have time to socialize and to hangout aimlessly? No. Do we want to do that? No. We want to work.”
One thing is clear – there’s only one Kobe. Pick up your copy of GQ on February 17th.
SOURCE: GQ | PHOTO CREDIT: GQ