Press Coverage

CR Fashion Book Magazine

October 29, 2013

The Game

Considered one of the greatest athletes of all time, basketball player Kobe Bryant reflects on perseverance, divinity, and the spirituality of sport

words by Kobe Bryant
as told to Bhakti Sondra shaye

Bhakti Sondra Shaye CR Fashion Book For me, basketball is like when Beethoven composed the Moonlight Sonata. You feel something bigger than you. You become an instrument in a sense, and the music or the game is playing through you. It's spiritual.

My daughter Natalia was two years old when we took a family trip to Rome. We were inside the Vatican, walking around the Sistine Chapel. It was my first time there, and I looked up, I was overcome. I thought, It's breathtaking that a man can do that. And then I thought, Well, a man didn't do that. That's God breathing through him. I am a believer.

This past April I had an injury.* Before I got hurt, I was with our youngest daughter, Gianna. She's on a softball team. Prior to the semifinals, she had struck out the last seven times. She was really, really down. So I took her to batting practice before my games. The semifinal game comes around, she hits the ball well, then hits the ball really well, and she goes two-for-three. And then I have my game. I tear my Achilles. Blow it out. I'm inside the locker room. I can't help it, I'm crying. I told my kids, I said, "Listen, do you understand what's going on?" They nodded. I said, "Daddy can't play no more, this is it. But baby," I said, "Daddy's gonna be back."

Sometimes things happen and you feel like you can't get back up. That was one of those moments for me. But I will get back up. There are moments that you'll really feel like, This it it. But then you have to consider other people and what they're going through. There are people out there in the world who are going through 100 times more than what I'm going through. They're inspiring me to get through this injury, and then in turn I can inspire others. Starting with my kids. That's the positive side I choose.

In a basketball game, there are no cuts, there are no retakes. If you mess up, you mess up, and the world sees it. But there are guys who support you. You have teammates, you have focus, you have communication, and you have an opponent. You stay in the moment. If this is what I'm doing, this is what I'm doing. It's synonymous with life.

When you're just reacting and letting things flow, that is when you're at your best. In sports, you have time-outs, you have free throws, you have breaks in the action where you can become more conscious of what's going on around you. And this is what limits you. When you become conscious of what's going on, that's when its time - you must quiet your ego, because the ego acts as an inhibitor. In that moment, in the spiritual moment, you must be able to quiet yourself and just let it flow, just let it flow, and get out of the way. If you miss five shots in a row, and all of a sudden that starts to weigh on you, NO-just stay in the moment. When you have another open shot, shoot the shot. What happened with the last five shots you took has nothing to do with this shot right here right now. That's the hardest thing, I think, to do psychologically in sports.

And then there's the critic, who will always try to be part of the game. To me it's a challenge: I will show you. If you were in my shoes, you would quit. Because you don't dare come back. By coming back, I'm showing you something different. You can be more than what you would expect yourself to be. If I can inspire people in that way, and touch people in that way, then I feel like I've done something right.

*On April 12, 2013, with 3 minutes 47 seconds remaining in a game against Golden State Warriors, Bryant was fouled while driving to the basket and tore his left Achilles tendon. What happened next is remembered as one of the most courageous and inspired moments in the history of the game: Bryant got back on the court and with immaculate grace and subtlety limped to the free-throw line to make both free-throw attempts, ending his night with 34 points, including back-to-back three pointers, five rebounds, and four assists. Bryant's extraordinary effort helped the Lakers win that night and put them on track to make the play-offs, which Bryant had promised Lakers' fans his team would do.