The Difference Between Being Great and Solidifying a Legend; Obsession
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Yesterday, April 18, the Player’s Tribune released an article by Kobe Bryant, and NBA Legend on a topic that is very near and dear to him; obsession. The article starts out by telling that on November 12, 1996 Allen Iverson had 35 points against the Lakers. Kobe had only played 5 minutes and scored 2 points, statistically speaking a decent game but for some reason he got back to his hotel, destroyed the table, tv and chairs in his hotel room. The only answer he got from the situation was to work harder, so he did.
On March 19, 1999 Kobe and the Lakers played Allen Iverson again, this time he scored 41 points and had 10 assists with Kobe guarding him the entire game. The conclusion that he drew three years ago was not the answer he needed. Working harder, alone was not going to allow for him to find what he was looking for. Physically, the two could not guard each other. Mentally speaking however, is where Kobe decided he would find his edge. “I had to study this man maniacally”, Kobe write in his piece. Kobe watched every film he could find of AI, going all the way back to his high school All American game.
Game upon game Kobe watched of AI, but nothing seemed to be helping him find an edge. AI seemed to be too good, he could not figure out a plan of action in order to stop him physically. His research led him to Great White sharks off the coast of South Africa and how the hunt seals. The patience, the timing, the angles. Hard work and physicality alone was not going to allow for him to win this matchup, he needed to see the play as a whole, take a step back and allow for a second level thinking to evolve in his mind as he was playing so that he could use angles and patience to help him during his attack and defense of AI. The next time they faced each other on February 20, 2000 Kobe limited AI to only 16 points during the entire game.
Kobe felt a sense of pride and accomplishment after the prior two embarrassments against Iverson, but his work was not over yet. Kobe decided that he was going to take every matchup he had for the course of his career as serious as he took AI. He says in this piece, “I will choose whether or not your goals for the upcoming season compromise where I want to be in 20 years. If they don’t, happy hunting to you. But if they do…. I will hunt you obsessively. It’s only natural”.
As a competitor and athlete, this article written by Kobe gives me chills. The way he attacks every matchup during his career is with the same intensity and mindset that he attacks every obstacle in his life. Everyone at the elite level has the desire and will to will, that is a given. The true determining factor of solidifying oneself as a legend is the ability to allow the obsession that is inside every one of us one of us to come to fruition every single day in a relentless quest to glory that is driven by the obsession to be great.
Obsession is something that is so insatiable to the human mind that nothing aside from one specific thing can allow for a person to find content or happiness. This article shows that at the heart of every great athlete and person is the uncanny ability to never allow for anything but success, and to become obsessed with achieving it. On the field, in the work place and any space in between the most successful leaders are people that are so obsessed with success and achieving greatness that they are not only willing to sacrifice in solidarity, but they are willing to shape others and bring them along to reach their goals.
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