Kobe Bryant defines his version of what ‘greatness’ entails

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The resume of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is undoubtedly one that is second to none. During his sensational 20-year career in the NBA, the iconic player helped the Lakers claim five world championships. In 2009 and 2010, he earned back-to-back Finals MVP honors.

Of course, those were not the only MVPs Bryant picked up during his basketball career. Kobe won the regular season MVP award in 2007-2008. The scoring machine’s trophy shelves at home feature four All-Star MVPs as well.

Fittingly, it sheds plenty of light on why many fans used to emphatically chant “MVP! MVP!” whenever he was at the charity stripe. Bryant was simply that great from an on the court standpoint.

Since his retirement from the NBA, the awards have not stopped coming. Earlier this year, Bryant won an Oscar for the Best Animated Short Film. The composition, called “Dear Basketball,” is one that beautifully articulates his deep obsession with basketball.

The same short film was honored for another prestigious distinction shortly later. “Dear Basketball” was also worthy of a Sports Emmy, further eliminating the stigma that the only thing an athlete can do is play his or her respective sport.

Albeit trophies are wonderful and all, they ultimately gather dust bunnies and other debris as time progresses. To be honest, accolades embody a shallower version of what greatness is.

Bona fide impact oftentimes extends beyond what is calculable and determinable. Sure, it may sound rather cheesy, but there is supreme underlying truth in this.

It is not to deny the nice feelings that emerge when achievements are earned. The feelings that arise are great to experience, indeed. However, those emotions generally only last for a relatively short time frame.

What is temporal is simply not that crucial at the end of the day. What is not as measurable, though, is another can of worms.

Despite Bryant’s earthly success, the former Laker likewise believes that real impact is bigger than putting up astronomical statistics.

Per Corey Hansford of Lakers Nation, Bryant recently gave his personal definition of what greatness entails. He imparted this definition to Lewis Howes, outlining the importance of affecting other people.


“I think the definition of greatness is to inspire the people next to you. I think that’s what greatness is, or should be. It’s not something that lives and dies with one person. It’s how can you inspire a person to then in turn inspire another person that then inspires another person. That’s how you create something that I think lasts forever. I think that’s our challenge as people, is to figure out how our story can impact others and motivate them in a way to create their own greatness.”

This definition may sound unconventional, yet there is a massive kernel of truth in Kobe’s words.

Challenging others to find their niche in and of itself is a challenge. Despite that, once that other person realizes their potential, more doors start opening up. That same individual now carries the opportunity to help others grow and mature.

Thus, a chain reaction is created and, as Bryant said, it allows for something to be built that “lasts forever.”

In Kobe’s case, one example that comes to mind is how he has used “Mamba Mentality” to motivate so many lives. During his career, the Lakers legend became famous for this axiom due to his ability to never seem to let obstacles affect him too much.

In turn, Bryant has inspired many to keep moving forward even when those roadblocks in life emerge. Forward movement (regardless of the pace) is sometimes all that matters. Even a wee baby step is better than nothing.

What is worth mentioning is that everyone’s “story” is going to be different. Circumstantially, that is the way the ball bounces.

Finding beauty in the struggle, though, and ascertaining how elements like pain can be manufactured for the benefit of others cannot be ignored. The fact that Kobe Bryant grasps this is fantastic because it encompasses what life is all about.

Life should not merely be about the self. Ever. What carries weight is whether society is being impacted through the actions (or lack thereof) we, as people, take.

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