Kobe Bryant’s Transformation Into A Leader

As a 17 year old recent high school graduate Kobe Bean Bryant was drafted 13th by the Charlotte Hornets, but traded to the Los Angeles Lakers immediately.

Back then fans didn’t pay attention to youth sports like they do now, so it was up to professional teams to send their scouts to watch players and invite them to workouts. Jerry West, the Lakers General Manager then, said Bryant’s workout was the best he’s ever seen. West was known for having a keen eye for talent so with his endorsement the deal was as good as done.

Fast forward to December 18, 2017 when Kobe’s two jerseys (#8 & #24) were retired and the question asked was: which was better #8 or #24? Bryant hesitated to give a definitive answer, but when forced he responded with #24 because the journey was harder.

Bryant’s career in either jersey is Hall of Fame worthy, but what impressed me most is the maturation of who he has become over the years.

In his teens and 20’s he was an athletic, arrogant and brash individual that would do anything to win. In 2004 when the Lakers lost the NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons, Kobe pondered jumping to another team, but once his counterpart Shaquille O’Neal was shipped to Miami he was talked into staying.

This was fresh off his sexual assault case in 2003 and the years to come were not fruitful as a Laker. Kobe’s best years individually came while the Lakers were down and before the 2006-07 NBA Season he changed his number to #24.

Once they acquired Pau Gasol at the trade deadline in 2008 the Lakers won 2 championship in the next 3 years. The end of his playing career saw him endure 3 season-ending injuries on bad teams, but here is where the real story begins.

Asking recently what advice he would have given his younger self he said “empathy.” Coming from an anti-social, ego maniac driven person in his prime that’s huge. Bryant was always a solo artist, working harder than teammates and chastising those who didn’t share the same values. Sure, he was great, but few wanted to be around him or play with him.

But sometime after his court case and Shaq leaving town it clicked. Bryant’s last 2 championships were sweeter than his first 3 because of how he did it. Yes he won Finals MVP in his latter two, but it’s more about how he embraced his teammates. Watching all his former teammates gather for his final game and jersey retirement ceremony shows how he has evolved as a person.

His retirement speech had more to do with his family and message to the youth than it did about his accomplishments. Bryant is arguably one of the smartest basketball players and you can hear it in his words. He’s at peace with his career transition and done what few professional athletes have after retiring: move on.

The funny thing is even before Kobe became a leader, he didn’t strive for adoration. Why he’s adored so greatly in China is because of his work ethic. Although selfish at times, you can never fault him for not trying. He played every game like it was his last.

Over the years he’s softened his approach towards media, fans and critics. That’s because he’s at peace with who he is and his priorities have shifted to his family. Never has their been an athlete so polarizing from the start transform into a truly likable individual over time.

Bryant’s transformation is inspiring because his story can be ours too. No matter where you are, you can always change for the better. It starts with the small choices you make daily. Kobe is starting a new chapter in his life and with 2018 here so can you. #mambaout

Communicating Effectively w/ Hannah Kulik


Hannah and I first connected as writers for Lake Show Life, a sports blog and have stayed in touch since. She’s a talented young writer who now contributes to Lakers Nation. It’s rare for someone her age to be a strong communicator, so I wanted her to share her journey with you. Hope you enjoy it!

When did you realize you had a love/passion for writing?

It is not so much that I have a passion for writing, it is more that I have a passion for the Lakers and basketball in general. However, I first realized I was a pretty good writer as a freshman in high school, when my English teacher would have me help him grade other students’ papers and work with them individually. My dad always stressed the importance of being a writer who is clear and concise, so that is definitely something that has stayed with me throughout my writing career.

What is your definition of communication and how do you improve yours?

To me, communication is the ability to express one’s thoughts and opinions in a clear and concise manner. In this age of expanding social media, I feel that the art of conversation is being lost and in particular the ability to talk to others face-­to-­face. There are times in life when communicating in writing is ineffective and you have to be able to speak to someone directly in order to get your point across. Whatever you do in life, and regardless of your job, in order to be successful you have to be an effective communicator and that takes practice.

What experiences so far have shaped your voice as a journalist?

For two seasons, I was a staff writer at Lake Show Life and wrote over 100 articles that were published. Some of my articles were also picked up by other outlets such as Bleacher Report and Chatsports. My writing improved dramatically during that time by virtue of the effort I put in to my articles and the careful way that I reviewed them before they were submitted. In the early stages, two of the editors, Jacob Rude and Valerie Morales took an interest in me and gave me helpful guidance to improve my writing. Recently, I started writing for Lakers Nation and have also been accepted to write for Dodger Blue. Working with different editors has been very valuable as it has enabled me to learn different styles and develop my own voice as a writer.

As a college student what skills do you expect to learn while in school vs. experience through a job/internship?

What I have learned from school so far is that every audience is different, and you need to be flexible in order to determine the most effective way to communicate with each person individually. Something I feel I am learning and expect to continue to keep learning both in school and through a job/internship is how to put myself in positions to meet and communicate with as many different people as possible. In my opinion, taking yourself out of your comfort zone and actively engaging in the large and diverse world that is “media” and “social media” will expose you to different styles and help mold what eventually will become your own way of communicating.

What advice do you have for people pursuing a career in communications?

My biggest piece of advice for anyone pursuing a career in communications is to develop relationships with as many diverse people as possible in environments that interest you. You never know who you may unexpectedly encounter, a person with influence who may take an interest in you and help shape your development. Also, always remember to stand tall, shake hands firmly, look people in the eye, and speak in a confident voice. It sounds simple but takes practice and experience until it becomes second nature.

When you are not writing, what are some activities that you like to do in your free time?

When I am not writing, I am either working out, listening to music (anything from hip hop to country), hosting makeup tutorials on YouTube, spending time with my family, reading, or cooking!

Scott Asai is a speaker/coach that has been developing leaders for 20+ years – athletes, companies and individuals. His focus is helping people develop leadership skills to advance in their careers. Scott tends to attract a large audience of Millennials and Introverts to his programs/events. His professional background consists of: B.A. in Psychology, M.A. in Organizational Leadership, Certified Professional Coach and Certified Strengths Coach.

Lakers Talk w/ R.G. – 2/3/15

R.G. and Scott Asai discuss the recent Laker games versus the Bulls and the Knicks; the importance of developing Jordan Clarkson (as opposed to giving Jeremy Lin more playing time); Derrick Rose often forcing the issue on offense and potentially effecting the team chemistry; Kyrie Irving is as pure of a scorer as there is in the NBA; OKC’s plight and will KD stay there for the long run.