While Sportwelt praises Kobe Bryant, who died in a tragic helicopter crash on Sunday with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, most will remember his rating, others will remember his work ethic and victory. Some even his storytelling and underrated humor.
But everyone will remember his tenacity, his famous Mamba mentality that was ahead of his time, the joy of sports psychology. And the post spoke to some of those who were there to see how it germinated from the beginning before Bryant ever reached the NBA, which he continued to dominate.
Jim Sturgis and Rich Kosik worked at the famous ABCD camp in Teaneck (N.J.) when Bryant was at Lower Merion (Pa.) High School before his junior (1994) and senior (95) seasons. The camp included academic tuition, but Bryant didn't need SAT preparation. What he dipped headfirst into was critical thinking and sports psychology.
“He was right in front of us and asked questions. It was at a time when people didn't think much about the mental aspect of the game and didn't talk about it, ”said Sturgis, a senior consultant at St. Raymond High School in the Bronx and a double major at Columbia University. "He sat in front, asked great questions about it and wanted to be good at it."
Bryant got great at it, arguably the toughest player the NBA has seen. And as the legend of the mamba grew, Sturgis proudly watched from afar.
"Years later he returned to the camp and said," Listen to the boys talk about the mental aspect of basketball and use your thoughts to become a better player. "It's gratifying. Not many players come to a camp at this age [thinking that way], They just want to play ball, they want to dribble, ricochet off, show skills. Kobe was different. "
While Sturgis was teaching the sports psychology course along with George Zografos, a deputy headmaster in Cherry Hill (N.J.), Kosik oversaw them all. He was the academic director of a camp where players had to do three hours of basketball lessons a day. And he saw in this curious teenager the germs of the perfectionist he would later become.
"Every day he stayed at the end of the class and talked to the teachers. You will see him at lunchtime asking more questions about this or that topic. That was not a typical reaction," Kosik told the post office. "The only thing what impressed me was that he came back for two or three years, he was just great, they just knew that he would be successful.
"What really impressed me was three or four years after he joined the NBA, he came back to speak in the camp. … He had a great conversation with the kids – which LeBron James referred to on Friday after walking past Kobe [on the NBA scoring list], He remembered that he was in the audience listening to Kobe talk to the children. I was just totally impressed with him. That was a guy who got it. "
And that went beyond the five NBA titles he won, or the 18 all-star berths he earned, or the 33,643 points he scored. As a teenager, not much older than Gianna, it was understood that the mind was the most important muscle. That made Bryant make such a successful life.
"He wanted to do something with his life," said Kosik. "He didn't go to college, but he trained himself. His eyes were wide open, his ears were awakened, and he listened to people. With all of the life experience, he had a great base of information and was able to be significant to do positive things.
"He was just an impressive young man and just look how he turned out. It is only very sad that he and his daughter and the other two or three little girls were on their team [helicopter], It's just a terrible loss, a terrible loss. "