He’s chasing his sixth championship, a second three-peat, and still, Kobe Bryant doesn’t want to talk about Twitter followers. He doesn’t want to talk about all the Hollywood acting roles he has turned down, the parties and nightlife that he has mostly forsaken in his career. He’s chasing a ticking clock, chasing the ghosts before him – Jordan and Magic and Russell.
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.
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. On the night before every game, he still downloads video into his iPhone from Mike Procopio in Chicago about how opponents may attack him, the way the defenders will rotate to him, the spots where he can feed his teammates the ball – small things beyond the Lakers’ own scouting reports, another edge. Sometimes, they’ll email thoughts back and forth past midnight, which isn’t such a big deal because Bryant seldom sleeps more than three hours a night.