One of the saddest debacles you may ever witness in professional sports may the demise of a professional superstar. We’ve seen many instances of this: an overweight Shaquille O’neal playing on multiple NBA rosters, Charles Barkley desperately chasing for a first ring with the Houston Rockets, Brett Favre’s indecisiveness of retiring and coming back, and even an older Michael Jordan deciding to play with a mediocre Wizard’s franchise. I could keep going on with more of these examples, but clearly it’s the hardest reality a superstar may ever have to face. When you’re great and highly glorified at what you do, it’s hard to just give up on it.
I bring this up because I’m noticing an interesting occurrence with all-time Laker great Kobe Bryant- a shift in Kobe Bryant’s one-of-a-kind driven demeanor. Kobe is known to be one of the most mentally focused athletes of all time , but as we know, the last couple of injury-riddled seasons has left him watching from the sidelines. Kobe is intelligent enough to know that his celebrated career is coming to a diminishing end. So what does he do knowing that the undefeated father-time is upon him: he forms his own company, Kobe Inc., and builds a team around him to start new businesses and evaluate investing in others.
In a recent sit-down ESPN interview, Kobe Bryant said, “We want to own and help grow brands and ideas that challenge and redefine the sports industry while inspiring. If it doesn’t have the limbs of the sports industry, which I understand extremely well, then I probably won’t touch it.” Sounds like businessman jargon to me. He said that studying former NBA legends such as Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson reach lucrative business relationships has inspired him.
Kobe’s first big investment, officially announced on Saturday, will be upstart sport’s drink, BODYARMOR. He said this about his upstart energy drink: From a standpoint of innovation, if you look at the category, the category itself has been a dormant one for years. They have become accustom to drinking one product because that’s been the only one available to them. There hasn’t been a product that has come to them and said, ‘There’s another way to upgrade your sports drink .
While working on his comeback to the NBA, he will be simultaneously fully committed into growing his business life. During the time off, Kobe has studied some of the country’s most successful businessman, met with the executives of Twitter and Instagram, and also stopped at some colleges to sit-in on some business courses.
Kobe’s a cold-blooded killer on the basketball hardwood, but is he as focused on basketball as he once was? I would say no. It remains to be seen if this will impact Kobe’s play. The drive and mental fortitude is what makes Kobe an outlier from the other world-class athletes. But can I really blame him for his gradual transition into a lucrative business life? At the end of the day, all professional sports are a business. The franchises invest into valuable athletes, and make a profit from it. Kobe remains great, but the occurring injuries has slightly devalued his profitability to the NBA and the LA Lakers. This transition is smart. He is not oblivious to his deteriorating play on the court. Kobe refuses to be another sympathetic superstar we steadily watch deteriorate in front of our very own eyes. With his fiery and go-getter persona, it’s no doubt that the “Black Mamba’s” transition into the businessman world will be a success. Personalities like Kobe don’t just disappear into the professional athlete abyss. They find a new challenge, and they go after it.