“Everything negative—pressure, challenges—is all an opportunity for me to rise.”
—Kobe Bryant, 13-time NBA All-Star for the Los Angeles Lakers
Athletes face challenges both on and off the court throughout their lives. How they respond ultimately determines whether and how well they succeed. Often, a situation evokes the “fight or flight” response. Do you give up and run away, or do you accept the challenge, stand and fight?
Self-confidence is essential for viewing a tough situation as a challenge. A positive attitude throughout competition allows an athlete to stay focused and never lose sight of the task at hand.
Kobe Bryant, the LA Lakers’ All-Star shooting guard, obviously views each contest as a challenge. Although after 15 years in the NBA, #24 has become synonymous with success, it wasn’t always the case.
Throughout Kobe’s rookie season [1996-97], he averaged just 15.5 minutes of playing time and 7.6 points per game. Making mental errors and missing critical shots—three air balls during his final game, knocking the Lakers out of the playoffs—“The Black Mamba,” despite being a first-round draft pick, performed like an ordinary NBA player.
However, the young Kobe [he entered the league right out of high school] continued to grow and develop as a player. Dedicating himself to a rigorous off-season training program with Attack Athletics founder Tim Grover and cultivating a positive mindset at game time, Kobe worked himself into one of the greatest clutch players of all time.
Throughout his career, success and confidence fed off each other, as Kobe led Los Angeles to five NBA titles in 15 years, while amassing an enviable trophy collection: two NBA Finals MVPs, three NBA All-Star Game MVPs, one NBA MVP, every All-NBA team since 1999 and a Gold Medal at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.