REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL
GOES ONE-ON-ONE WITH LAKERS SUPERSTAR KOBE BRYANT
WHEN IT RETURNS TONIGHT AT 10:00 P.M. ET/PT ON HBO
*The Black Mamba. With five NBA Championships, 18 All-Star Game nods and countless other accolades, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant will be remembered as one of the best ever. However, the sometimes outspoken “Black Mamba” is hoping to be remembered for more than basketball, and plans to run a multimedia company that tells sports stories. Correspondent Andrea Kremer visits Bryant’s new venture, which is already well underway, and goes one-on-one with the future Hall of Famer.
Bryant had announced his retirement abruptly in November, a month into the season. Without tears and without even a hint regret…
HBO’S ANDREA KREMER: “When do you think you truly knew that this was gonna be your last season?”
KOBE BRYANT: “Like, four days before I announced.”
ANDREA KREMER: “Really?”
KOBE BRYANT: “I try to meditate daily. 90% of the time those thoughts were centered around the game, basketball. All of a sudden those thoughts weren’t there anymore. It was focused on, all right, what’s next. And that’s when I was like, ‘You know what, it’s time.’”
During his second year in the NBA, Kobe Bryant got a phone call that cemented his ruthless approach to the game of basketball.
KOBE BRYANT: “Gold’s Gym in ’98. Liftin’ weights and I get a phone call and it’s Michael Jackson on the other line. And kinda, ‘What the hell is going on?’ Somebody’s playing a practical joke.
ANDREA KREMER: “Michael Jackson calling you at the age of 18?”
KOBE BRYANT: “Age of 18. He’s a big basketball fan. I was starting to get flack for being an introvert and being so serious all the time about the game. And he wanted to call and give me encouragement and say, ‘Don’t change for them. You have to stay focused. If you wanna be one of the all-time greats you have to study the all-time greats. You have to be obsessive about what you do and how you do it.’ And the summertime, I would just disappear. I’d be studying, I’d be researching, I’d be figuring out a way.”
ANDREA KREMER: “Studying, researching—what?”
KOBE BRYANT: “The game. Chicago won another championship. How? Why? How do we get to that level?”
It didn’t take long for Bryant and the Lakers to figure it out. Bryant won his first NBA championship when he was just 21-years-old – the first of three consecutive titles. He was a King in the land of stars. But there was a selfishness that bothered his coach, Phil Jackson.
PHIL JACKSON: “I always remember a game in which– Michael Jordan was– in retirement. And he came to the game. I think Kobe had, like, 40 points the first half. And I turned to the coaches and I said, ‘Kobe knows Michael’s in the stands. He’s just showin’ him who he is.’”
ANDREA KREMER: “You literally said this to your coaches?”
PHIL JACKSON: “Yeah. Yeah.”
ANDREA KREMER: “And were you right?”
PHIL JACKSON: “Yeah, I was right. He wanted to put on a show for Michael. That part irritated me about Kobe, is that, you know, this is about a game that you have to respect. But sometimes he went off the edge. And this is one of his younger type things where he went off the edge and said, ‘Here, you wanna look at this? See how good I am?’”
Bryant decided that if people were going to hate him, they should at least know him first. So he adopted a new persona borrowed from a Quentin Tarrantino movie, Kill Bill.
KOBE BRYANT: “That was the birth of the Black Mamba.”
ANDREA KREMER: “Of all the creatures that you could have pulled for yourself, why that one?
KOBE BRYANT: “Because it spoke to me. The length of the snake, the accuracy of the snake, the temperament. When I step on the court, that’s me. I don’t play around. I’m not there to be your best friend. I am there to destroy you.”