Kobe Bryant: How He Dominated Sports and Business

** FILE ** In this April 23, 2008, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts after making a three-point basket during the second half of Game 2 of a first-round NBA playoff basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Wednesday, April 23, 2008, in Los Angeles. Bryant has won the NBA's MVP award for the first time, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site Friday night, May 2, 2008, citing anonymous sources familiar with the outcome of voting by media members. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, file)

Few players will ever leave a more memorable mark on professional sports than Kobe Bryant.

Sustaining an unprecedented level of success for 20 consecutive seasons with the most storied franchise in NBA history, Kobe has remained dominant, despite consistently competing against rosters of talented superstars and future hall-of-famers. Bryant’s legacy has transcended eras, adding timeless chapters to an iconic dynasty previously defined by legendary names such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West. Combining a relentless tenacity, intense focus and unmatched will to win, Kobe not only pushed every player who shared the roster to be the best, he undoubtedly enhanced the energy and excitement that propelled the NBA.

Extending two decades, the 37-year-old is an 18-time NBA All-Star, four-time All-Star Game MVP, 2008 NBA MVP, and will walk away from the sport a 5-time world champion. In December, Kobe Bryant surpassedMichael Jordan on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, elevating him to third overall behind Kareem and Karl Malone. Yet, beyond running record numbers up every evening on the court, Bryant has also built a record-breaking business off the court.

Landing an array of lucrative endorsement deals and partnerships throughout his career to compliment his annual playing salary, Kobe has earned an estimated $465 million, a number never achieved by any NBA player. This total is projected to exceed a record $680 million by the time he takes his final bow at StaplesSPLS +1.04% Center, which will make him the highest grossing team-athlete in history. Only Floyd Mayweather, Tiger Woods andMichael Schumacher have tallied more competing within individual sports. Although Michael Jordan made post-retirement headlines by joining the billionaire club from Brand Jordan, Jordan still falls second with $720 million to Bryant’s $760 million (inflation-adjusted earnings).

Yet, beyond stepping up in the biggest moments, carrying a city on is shoulders and claiming multiple titles, what places Bryant amongst the rarest breed of champions is his unparalleled work ethic and fearless leadership. Groomed by the genius of Phil Jackson and sharpening his craft around a team of seasoned veterans that included Shaquille O’Neal, Robert Horry and Rick Fox , Kobe proved to be a true student of the game. From taking thousands of shots before practice or watching hours of film after training in the weight room, Kobe stayed committed to sharpening his basketball IQ while pushing his teammates to perform at the highest level. Not only did he earn the respect of legends, he gave everything to the game that he loved.

At American Express AXP -0.31%Teamed Up, Kobe shared a stage alongside longtime friends and teammates Rick Fox and Robert Horry to discuss his decorated career, the road to retirement and what has allowed him to maintain a championship mentality after winning multiple titles. When asked about the secret that made them mesh so well together, Bryant’s answer proved just as clear and definitive as his desire to be the greatest: “We were extremely direct with each other and we pushed each other.” It is that same inherent passion for growth which has kept Kobe focused and hungry, even after such a storied career and achieving the highest accolades in the sport.“It’s not about the success, it’s about the process of getting there,”Bryant stated. “I truly love this game and I left it all on the floor — how I approach the game is what I will miss most.”

The intimate conversation, moderated by Kristen Ledlow of NBA TV, was an exclusive experience American Express EXPR -0.65% awarded to select card members. Hosted in the Conga Room at LA Live, the night was highlighted by timeless memories, laughs and an in-depth look into the mind of a man who dominated the court for two generations. As Bryant prepares for his final NBA game, a small crowd of friends, supporters and lifelong fans got to take part in a special moment of his career.

“For American Express, being a part of a moment like this means everything to us,” stated Deb Curtis, Vice President of Entertainment Marketing & Sponsorships. “Kobe is such a great manifestation of the power of sports, the power of what a career could be, and he’s certainly authentic to the message we want to convey with Teamed Up, which is the power of team work.”  The Teammate initiative aims to celebrate the culture and impact of basketball, while giving American Express members access to rare moments and experiences tied to the NBA. “When we get asked how did this idea come to life, it’s because athletes like Kobe and our partners really believe in the notion that it takes great teamwork and teammates along the way to win titles and have such exceptional careers.”

Source Cowan: Forbes


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