科比·布莱恩特(Kobe Bryant),当今NBA最有影响力和最具偶像气质的篮球巨星,四次夺得NBA总冠军,曾获NBA总决赛MVP (最有价值球员)称号,被认为是“篮球之神”乔丹的接班人,目前效力于洛杉矶湖人队。19xx年科比出生于美国一个篮球世家,后随父亲到意大利打球,在意大利度过了七年时光。19xx年科比加入NBA,20xx年获得了个人职业生涯第一次NBA总冠军;20xx年1月,在与猛龙队比赛时,科比单场拿下81分——NBA历史上排名第二的单场个人最高分。他勤奋刻苦,使自己的天赋之才与后天努力达到了完美的结合;他具有超强的组织能力和团队合作精神,与队友一起赢得一次又一次胜利。在球场上,他助攻、篮板,无所不能,是得分高手;在生活中,他谦和、亲切,热衷公益事业,是青年人的极佳典范。20xx年7月1日,科比成为中美两国交流的形象大使。
Devotion to Charity
Shui: Tell us how do you feel about this trip?
Kobe: I feel great. I love coming out to China because it’s somewhat like my home, and because the people are so great. They’ve done such a great job of just welcoming me with open arms every time I come here.
Shui: I guess you will come to China more frequently because now you have the Kobe Bryant China Fund1).
Shui: Whose idea?
Kobe: Well, I think it’s a mutual thing because everything we do is predicated on helping our kids. As you get older, you come to realize that there’s more to life than just playing basketball or winning games or winning championships. But you have that ability to help others for future generations, and I think that’s been the key that’s brought us together.
Shui: I understand that basketball is very important for you, but it’s not the whole thing.
Kobe: That’s exactly right, because playing basketball—it’s fun—I love to do it, but you also have the opportunity to help others. So you have to take the advantage of that opportunity.
Shui: What is your expectation for your foundation now in China?
Kobe: Our expectation is to be able to help as many as we can. That’s the key; that’s the goal. Whether it will be education through sport, and whatever the circumstances call for, we want to be there to assist and to help and to provide.
Playing Basketball at a Young Age
Shui: We know that actually you started to play basketball at a very early age. Three?
Kobe: Two, actually. My entire family was a basketball family. My grandmother, my uncle, my father, everyone played basketball. When I was born, they gave me a basketball and I haven’t put it down since. I just loved it from the first time I touched a basketball.
Shui: Were you very tall when you were three?
Kobe: No, not at all. I didn’t start growing till I was about 14 years old, but up until that point I was smaller than everybody else.
Shui: At that time you told everybody that you were going to be the big player in NBA. Is that true? Kobe: I was a good player in Italy, but everyone in Italy said, “When you get back to the United States, you’re not going to be good, because they’re going to be so much better than you are.” That was a challenge; that was the motivation; that drove me at that time to come back to the United States and learn the game and be a better player.
Shui: I guess your Dad was the one who inspired you a lot, and who taught you a lot of ways to practice yourself, to make yourself stronger, and be fit for basketball.
Kobe: Absolutely. Everywhere my father went, I was right behind him. So he went to practice, and I went to practice with him. He went to the game, and I was at the game with him. So I watched, I learned, and I observed so many things. A lot of it was taught directly to me and also I just learned through osmosis2).
Joining the NBA
Shui: 1996. It was 29 April. You were 17. And you told everybody, including 70 reporters, that you were going to join the NBA directly from high school. That was a tough decision. What made you do that?
Kobe: Well, I looked at it as an opportunity to learn from the best of the best. That’s how I looked at it. I said, “Well, I have this opportunity here, ahead of myself. Am I ready for the NBA? I don’t know, but I know I’ll do the work try to make myself ready.” But it was a great chance to come into the NBA at a young age and learn from the best players on the planet.
Shui: What did NBA at that time, when you were 17, represent for you? It’s kind of a game, but it’s a very high-level game and it’s going to be tough.
Kobe: But it’s my childhood dream. I watched so many great players to be part of the NBA. Now, it was my opportunity to be a part of it. I was scared, a little nervous, but I was excited, and I think the excitement exceeded the nerves and the fear.
Shui: In November 3, 1996, you played it, when you were 18 years old. You played the first NBA game. What was that like?
Kobe: That was nerve-racking. I was very nervous. You’re thinking about everything, about doing it right, about doing it wrong, and it’s all these things going in your head. It’s funny, because when you think about it, you think of like all of the worst things that could possibly happen. And then you go out and you perform and it’s not nearly as bad as you made it out to be in your own head. I think that’s the first step toward gaining that confidence.
Shui: At that time you were the youngest NBA player—such a huge, big pressure around you and upon you. That was really going to be a tough time.
Kobe: Yeah, it could have been, but for me it was just, “Gosh, I just love playing basketball.” It wasn’t the pressure from media, from other people’s expectations; it was the pressure that I had in myself. I really want to do well. And from that point forward I just continued to work and work and try to get better.
First Taste of a Championship
Shui: And until 2000 you won the first championship; you had the first taste of a championship. Kobe: Yeah, very lucky. I was 21 years old, and there’re a lot of players who don’t get to the NBA finals in a lifetime, let alone win one, and in 2000 we did it.
Shui: What did that kind of a championship tell you at that time?
Kobe: Well, it was really about resiliency3) for us because the previous years we had enough talent to win the NBA championship. But for me, I had a chance to observe that talent alone isn’t going to win a championship. You have to have togetherness; you have to have hard work; players get along and work as a team. For me, to observe that at an early age was a great lesson.
Shui: People always say, for someone who is successful at a very early age sometimes it’s not a good thing, because it can spoil you. It seems that it didn’t happen to you.
Kobe: No, no. I never played for the accolades4) or the fame or the money. I played because I love it. So when you love something—that’s at your core—everything else doesn’t matter. You just love your job; you just love going out there and working hard and playing by just having a good time. So that’s what I’m about, and it’s easy for me to just keep going.
The Beauty of Basketball
Shui: Kobe, tell me what is the beauty of basketball for you.
Kobe: For me it’s so many things. Even the smell of the ball to me is beautiful. The sound of the sneakers squeaking on the hardwood, the sound the ball makes when it goes to the net, and then as far as the game itself: it’s the strategies involved, and it’s a community of having a team, trying to get to the top when other teams are trying to do the same thing. It’s all of these things wrapped into one huge ball that just makes the game beautiful.
Shui: And what is the climax? When you make the shot?
Kobe: Well, the ultimate climax is winning the NBA championship. That’s the ultimate feeling, because you have a team that bonds together and you climb to the top of that mountain together as brothers.
Shui: And sometimes you make the last-second shot.
Kobe: That’s an even more beautiful feeling.
Shui: That’s going to be very difficult, because at that time thousands of fans are cheering, and the team is very nervous. The ball is in your hand, and within two seconds you’re going to shoot the ball. Where does the confidence come from?
Kobe: I don’t know. You just do it. For me, it’s just I’ve been playing basketball since I was two—I’ve been playing for a long time, and I work extremely hard, so the shots that I take when
there’s two seconds left are shots that I’ve taken thousands and thousands of times. For me, I try not to think about it how you just said it, about thousands of people watching, because then it will make you nervous. All I think about is, “All I have to do is go out there and make one shot. That’s it. Just make one shot: it’s a shot I’ve made thousands of times, and if I can make this one shot then we win.”
Shui: After the first championship, you had an injury several years later, with the fourth
metacarpal5) bone in your right hand, and then you began to try to practice yourself to throw the ball with your left hand. And it was reported that you practiced 100,000 times during that summer. You could have gone out for vacation, but you chose to do the practice.
Kobe: That’s what’s fun for me. I enjoy doing that. Obviously I enjoy going to the beach too, and you can still do both. That was extremely hard. My left hand was something that I felt like I could get better at. My right hand I couldn’t use because it was broken. I said, “Let me work on my left.” Shui: I know that it’s an open secret that you train yourself very hard, sometimes bitterly.
Kobe: Absolutely, I enjoy doing it though. I love practice. I love the thrill of seeing improvement and getting better. That just excites me.
The Spirit of Teamwork
Shui: Well, it was reported that you had a story about the orca6) whales: after reading about the pack hunting mentality, and you just jumped onto a helicopter, went to the Pacific Ocean to watch how they do the pack hunting.
Kobe: Yeah, I’ve researched that. I’ve studied that. I was very curious about it, because as a team, when you have to hunt as a group you can’t have one player doing this thing over here and another player doing this thing over here. You do that, but it all falls into the same strategy, so we’re all working as a team similar to orca whales.
Shui: And after watching them hunting, what did you get?
Kobe: That’s exactly what I gathered. It was just so interesting to me to see their strategies of how they hunt and how much teamwork is involved.
Shui: Did you discuss this with your teammates?
Kobe: I did, actually. It’s some of the things I do, in helping that they understand and see the picture clearly of how we become a better team, and how we become a championship team. We do it by working together, and that’s one of the examples I gave.
1. Kobe Bryant China Fund:科比·布莱恩特中国基金会,成立于20xx年,是科比·布莱恩特基金会(Kobe Bryant Family Foundation)在中国开展慈善活动的分会,象征着科比对中国少年儿童福利和教育事业的承诺和贡献。
2. osmosis n. 渗透(作用)
3. resiliency n. 复原力,恢复力,适应力
4. accolade n. 赞美,荣誉
5. metacarpal adj. 掌部的
6. orca n. 虎鲸