Kobe Bryant is a man of few wasted words, picking his spots and topics carefully as he navigates being a global icon in his post-NBA career. So far things have gone smoothly for Bryant, who’s building up his Kobe, Inc. portfolio and expanding his reach in various media mediums.
Kobe has become an ambassador of sorts, with his word carrying weight beyond the scope of sports. He recently spoke with Ben Strauss of Politico about former president Barack Obama, opening up about what he tried to learn from him when they met after his NBA retirement. He also touched on what what kind of legacy Obama’s impact on sports will leave behind.
Unsurprisingly, Kobe was highly complimentary of the former president. With a life away from the court and busy schedule in an entirely new avenue ahead, Bryant wanted to learn how Obama balanced having so many responsibilities following his retirement.
“I wanted to know how he got better, from managing his schedule to what he reads. And because he gets sports, and we can talk about that, too, it makes it easier to have that connection,” Bryant told Strauss.
As far as what Kobe feels Obama brought to the sports world that has everyone “missing” him was the “political awareness” that be brought to locker rooms. Here are a few more thoughts from Bryant on Obama, and what made him rare (via Politico):
“Obama didn’t inspire someone like Colin Kaepernick,” Bryant said. “But he did help athletes progress beyond just asking questions or just being angry, and asking why something is the way it is. Like what’s the constitutional reason behind something and what can be changed. “He made locker rooms more politically aware,” Bryant continued.
“Conversations changed. Obviously, now with the violence we’re seeing across the country, that’s something athletes are understanding more and more. He was rare. We all miss him to a certain extent.”
Bryant typically doesn’t stick his neck too far out. Last November he wouldn’t even directly say which presidential candidate he supported, though he danced around the question clearly enough (via Eric Pincus, Bleacher Report)
"I think we don't have to all randomly guess what side of the fence that I'm on," Bryant said. "For those that support the opposite of what you believe my point of view...and if you know me for many years, I think you know what candidate I'm supporting...then God bless you, that's your point of view."
Kobe also told Strauss he’d “probably” go to the White House for the championship visit today, but said “honestly, it’s a tough call.” Bryant says that the presidential visit isn’t about support of an administration, but an opportunity to represent the county, teammates and those those that look up to you.
It certainly seems like time has flown by since the last time Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers went on a trip to Washington D.C., way back in 2010:
Better days for Lakers fans.