Kobe Bryant never let anyone outdo him. The 5-time NBA champion was a superstar in the league not just because of his talent, but because of his unmatched determination. Kobe always looked at complacency as the enemy and made sure that he was always doing better to improve himself.
Kobe entered the league directly from high school and joined the Los Angeles Lakers. As a young player in the league, Bryant had to work twice as hard in order to get consideration for minutes in his team.
Within two seasons, Kobe became an All-Star for the first time. But he didn’t stop there. He went on to improve, becoming one of the best players in the league at a very early age. Within the next few years of his career, Kobe became a superstar and an NBA champion, working alongside fellow superstar Shaquille O’Neal.
After Shaq’s departure in 2004, Kobe and the Lakers struggled to make any significant noise in the Western Conference. But Bryant was still one of the standout players in the league, doing his best to ensure that he and the Lakers found some success during their tenure.
By 2008, the Lakers were once again contenders for the NBA championship. After the Lakers brought in Pau Gasol, Kobe and the Lakers were going for the chip. Bryant had a fantastic season in 2008, being named league MVP.
But the Lakers could not overcome the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals. The Lakers lost to the newly formed big three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. But there was no time to rest for Kobe, as he was going to lead Team USA at the 2008 Olympics.
Newly enshrined Hall Of Famer Chris Bosh shared a story about Kobe Bryant during his speech at the Hall Of Fame ceremony. At the 2008 Olympics, the players had the goal to be the first ones at practice. But as Bosh reached the practice facility, Kobe was already there, drenched in sweat after working out for a few hours.
“It was 2008, the Redeem Team was formed. We were in Vegas for the start of training camp and we’re getting ready for the Olympics in Beijing. I wanted to establish myself as a young leader on the team by waking up bright and early [on] day one. So the goal was to be the first one at breakfast. I set my alarm, I make sure I’m up by sunrise, I get out of bed, I put on my gear and I head downstairs…but when I get there, Kobe is already there with ice packs on his knees, drenched in sweat.”
“It took me a minute to figure it out, but this guy was not only awake before me, he had already worked out. He had just played in the Finals days earlier, meanwhile I've been off for months and I was still exhausted. What he did that day was incomprehensible to me...that dedication he had only days after falling short of an NBA championship, that taught me something I have never forgotten: legends aren’t defined by their successes, they are defined by how they bounce back from their failures.”
Kobe helped lead Team USA to victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, winning the gold medal. Over the next, Bryant’s hard work and never-give-up attitude help the Lakers win the NBA championships back-to-back, beating the Magic and the Celtics in the Finals respectively.