Los Angeles Lakers: 3 Lessons Kobe Bryant taught us

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo credit MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images) /

3.) Failure is not an option

We’re at game five of the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz. The Los Angeles Lakers are down 89-93 with three minutes remaining. With Byron Scott out due to injury, and Shaquille O’Neal fouled out of the game, Bryant took it upon himself to put the team on his back. Unfortunately for Kobe, inexperience won out, and he air-balled four straight three-point attempts, en route to the Jazz wrapping up that series.

What did Kobe Bryant do? Instead of wallowing in his sorrows, and letting this failure get the best of him, he went back to the gym, worked on his game, and what followed was three straight championships from 2000-2002.

Kobe always used his failures as motivation to get better. Another example is when Shaquille O’Neal left the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2005. Kobe answered the call and had one of the finest scoring seasons of his career, averaging 35.6 points per game in the ‘05-’06 season, which included having the second highest single-game scoring performance in NBA history — 81 points against the Toronto Raptors on January 22nd, 2006.

The 2008 NBA Finals were another example of Kobe’s resilience as a competitor. After winning the league MVP award, Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves face to face against the Boston Celtics in the Finals. The Celtics ultimately won the series in six games, capped off by a 39-point beatdown in Game 6 at the Boston Garden.

How did Kobe respond to such a disappointing end to his MVP season? He came back in the 2009 season with a vengeance, returning to the NBA Finals, this time against the Orlando Magic, and calmly handled business this time around, routing the Dwight Howard-led team in five games.

He managed to one-up himself by getting to the NBA Finals once more in 2010, in a rematch against the Boston Celtics. Kobe refused to have a repeat of 2008, and even amidst a sub-par shooting performance in Game 7, found other ways to contribute, pulling in 15 rebounds, and making the pass that set up Ron Artest for the game-sealing three pointer. The Lakers won the series, and Kobe earned his fifth NBA championship, and second Finals MVP award.

At the end of the day, Kobe never got too low from his past failures, and instead used them as motivation to get better.