Kobe Bryant Reveals His Mentor: Michael Jackson

Today Yahoo NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski has a truly epic blindside today from a recent interview he did with Kobe Bryant.

Kobe Bryant Magic Johnson at Michael Jackson's funeral


Out of nowhere one afternoon, Michael Jackson made a call to the irrepressible and isolated (then-18-year-old) Kobe Bryant, and so much changed for him.

… They would talk for hours and hours, visiting at Neverland Ranch, and Bryant has long been fortified by the lessons Jackson instilled about the burden of honoring true talent, about the ways to open your mind to be smarter, sharper and insatiable in the chase

“It sounds weird, I guess, but it’s true: I was really mentored by the preparation of Michael Jackson,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports.

Sounds weird?

More from Wojnarowski:

“We would always talk about how he prepared to make his music, how he prepared for concerts,” Bryant said. “He would teach me what he did: How to make a ‘Thriller’ album, a ‘Bad’ album, all the details that went into it.

“It was all the validation that I needed – to know that I had to focus on my craft and never waver. Because what he did – and how he did it – was psychotic. He helped me get to a level where I was able to win three titles playing with Shaq because of my preparation, my study. And it’s only all grown.

“That’s the mentality that I have – it’s not an athletic one. It’s not from [Michael] Jordan. It’s not from other athletes.

“It’s from Michael Jackson.”

After reading Wojnarowski’s lengthy piece on the inner workings of Bryant, I think I may finally have a clue why we all know so little about #24’s personal life.

Because there is so little to know.


The world has changed around Bryant in this modern NBA, but his core basketball values have remained largely untouched and unimpeachable: His will stays greater than yours; his talent evolves but hardly diminishes. His single-mindedness remains maniacal.

“Guys have voices now, want to build brands,” Bryant said. “I don’t identify with it, but I understand where it’s going, why it’s going there. That’s not for me. I focus on one thing and one thing only – that’s trying to win as many championships as I can.”

Yes, he’s got five, and the Lakers stand as a favorite to get him his sixth this season. The false god of celebrity still isn’t intoxicating to him like the grit, the grind of greatness. He still loves the work, craves the pain that comes with pushing himself – pushing everyone. The craft, he calls it: Honor the craft.

Bryant gets what LeBron James clearly doesn’t. Basketball is all that matters in his life - for now. Basketball is what fuels all opportunities provided him off the court.

There will be time to lead the life of leisure, like a certain former Chicago Bull. But for now, leave the brand-building to Billy Mays. (Junior.)