To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s passing on June 25, 2009, we are reposting the following article, which was originally published on April l24, 2017.
Kobe Bryant is best known as one of the NBA’s most iconic ballplayers. His focus, work ethic and ability to deliver a deadly blow to opposing teams made the Black Mamba one of the most exciting players to watch during his two decades in the league. When he walked away from the Lakers a year ago, Bryant penned a poem titled “Dear Basketball” detailing his love for the game. The moving ode was turned into an animated short film, which premiered over the weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival.
During a discussion following the film’s debut, Bryant said he’s fallen in love with storytelling.
“The best way to inspire is through story, it tends to sink in more,” the future Hall of Famer said. “I was happy I wrote something Glen and John believed in…And that I could do something other than play basketball.”
Speaking of basketball, Bryant also shared an interesting story about one of his biggest inspirations–the King of Pop.
It’s the craziest story— I was working out at Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach and my phone rings, and it’s Michael Jackson. I was like ‘What? Why?’ It was this moment in time where I was really focused on my game, and I was getting a lot of flack for being too focused, being too serious. He was a big basketball fan, so he called just to tell me to stay on the right track, keep focused.
I said, ‘OK, well how did you do it?’ And he just went into his whole process of how he studied the greats, how he studied every note in all the Beatles’ classics to try to figure out if there’s a connection between that piece of music and Mozart’s piece of music. He said, ‘You have to study the greats, learn everything about them.’ He showed me all kinds of James Brown, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly; he showed me, ‘This is where I learned this, this is where I learned that.’ I thought I was working hard until I met him, and he became my mentor. I’ve had a lot of muses in my life, a lot of inspirations, but he is the chief.
While Bryant was inspired by the King, he also sprinkled a little magic on the Queen—Beyoncé, that is.
“I took my girls to see Beyoncé in concert, and we went backstage,” he recalled. “I told her, ‘You killed it tonight,’ and she said, ‘I learned it from you.'”
How cool is that?