Given how obsessed Kobe Bryant clearly was with basketball during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, it made sense to assume that retirement was going to be difficult for him.
After all, how could it not be? Bryant had been open during his time in the NBA about how he ate, slept, dreamed and breathed basketball, concerning himself with very little else and seemingly looking down upon teammates who had other concerns.
However, during Bryant’s final season, the signs were there that he would enjoy post-retirement life. The way Bryant would turn every press conference into a referendum on his love of storytelling, or his increasing social commentary offered optimism basketball was no longer his only focus.
During an appearance on Fox Sports Radio’s “Chris and Caron,” Bryant made it clear that any such worries about his inability to thrive in retirement were misguided, and that he’s having a ball now that he’s no longer playing ball:
“It’s actually better than I dreamed of or imagined it could be. I’m very fortunate to be able to have found something that I love just as much as I loved basketball. It’s the same process, it’s a lot of work, a lot of attention to detail and getting up early, staying up late. Finding the right people to work with that share that same passion, love and obsessiveness for the craft. And when you do that, when you work with great people, the results tend to be great as well … I’m loving every minute of it.”
The results Bryant has achieved with his storytelling so far include an Oscar and an Emmy, among other accolades. Given how obsessed he was with winning, it’s not all that surprising that such awards have allowed him to seamlessly slide into a retirement focused on the challenge of being the best in a new field.
Also, it’s easy to understand how refreshing it could be to get to focus on something new after 20-plus years of doing anything, no matter how much one loved their previous challenge or venture. Bryant is getting to do that now, and channeling his legendary work ethic towards climbing a new figurative mountaintop seems to be as enjoyable for him to do as he hopes the new content he’s creating is for us to watch.
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