Dec 17 2010

“That’s the mentality that I have – it’s not an athletic one. It’s from Michael Jackson.”

Category: Friends,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 6:30 am

Kobe Bryant and Michael

Kobe Bryant and Michael

Those are the words of Kobe Bryant, star basketball player with the LA Lakers. It’s always amazing how many different people Michael Jackson personally mentored and inspired in his lifetime. Just after Michael’s death, Bryant, who says his on-court mentality comes largely from what he learned from Michael, shared his memories about his friendship with Michael and the lessons he learned from him. They’re important lessons for all of us. Like staying true to your dreams and passions, never being afraid to stand out from the crowd and be different, and the importance of really working, preparing, mastering, and even being obsessed with your craft whether it’s music or basketball.

Many fans have found a similarity between Michael Jackson and the story of Jonathan Livingston-Seagull. It shouldn’t be surprising then that this was one of the books Michael gave to Kobe as a way of communicating with him about being obsessed with and passionate for your dreams.

Here are a couple of stories about Michael and Kobe’s friendship:

• • •

MINNEAPOLIS – Out of nowhere one afternoon, Michael Jackson made a call to the irrepressible and isolated Kobe Bryant(notes), and so much changed for him. From a distance, the King of Pop could sense so much of his own obsessive genius within the prodigy. Bryant was the 18-year-old wonder for the Los Angeles Lakers, and no one knew what to make of a restlessness borne of a desperate desire for greatness.

He noticed I was getting a lot of [expletive] for being different,” Bryant said.

They would talk for hours and hours, visiting at Neverland Ranch, and Bryant has long been fortified by the lessons Jackson instilled about the burden of honoring true talent, about the ways to open your mind to be smarter, sharper and insatiable in the chase.

It sounds weird, I guess, but it’s true: I was really mentored by the preparation of Michael Jackson,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports.

Bryant isn’t much for nostalgia and sentimentality, but it hung in the air as he cut into his steak over dinner recently in the fourth-floor restaurant at the Graves Hotel. Jackson is gone, but Bryant is going on 15 years with the Lakers.

We would always talk about how he prepared to make his music, how he prepared for concerts,Bryant said. “He would teach me what he did: How to make a ‘Thriller’ album, a ‘Bad’ album, all the details that went into it. It was all the validation that I needed – to know that I had to focus on my craft and never waver. Because what he did – and how he did it – was psychotic. He helped me get to a level where I was able to win three titles playing with Shaq because of my preparation, my study. And it’s only all grown.

“That’s the mentality that I have – it’s not an athletic one. It’s not from [Michael] Jordan. It’s not from other athletes.

“It’s from Michael Jackson.”

• • •

Kobe Remembers Michael (Time Article):

One of the things he always told me was, don’t be afraid to be different. In other words, when you have that desire, that drive, people are going to try to pull you away from that, and pull you closer to the pack to be ‘normal.’ And he was saying, It’s O.K. to be that driven; it’s O.K. to be obsessed with what you want to do. That’s perfectly fine. Don’t be afraid to not deviate from that. One of the books that he gave me that helped him communicate with me was “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” which was about that.

Beyond the genius of what he was, he was just a genuinely, genuinely nice person. He got me hooked on movies that I would normally never watch. Fred Astaire movies. All the old classics. I would never, never watch those. I remember my fiancée and I telling him we were getting married, and him just being really excited and actually just offering up the ranch to have our wedding there, because privacy was going to be an issue. We wanted to get married in a church, so that’s what we wound up doing. But he made the offer. He was just a genuinely nice person who was exceptionally bright, exceptionally bright, and driven and talented. You mix those things together, man, you have Michael Jackson.

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16 Responses to ““That’s the mentality that I have – it’s not an athletic one. It’s from Michael Jackson.””

  1. March 17th, 2005 Trial Analysis: Fritz Coleman, Kiki Fournier, Ruby Wolff, Shawn O’Grady, Jeffery Ellis, and Conn Abel (Direct & Cross Examination), Part 2 of 3 « Michael Jackson Vindication 2.0 says:

    […] In this post from the MJJ-777 blog, Kobe Bryant spoke of the times that he hung out at Neverland with Jackson in this interview, and there were many other basketball players who spent time at Neverland as well (most likely from the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers) […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  2. Seven says:


    This is true. Most who showed up for his memorial were such fair-weather and sudden ‘friends’. Where were they in 2003 – 2005? Even Tom Mesereau posed that question and it is one that deserves an answer. The only one who has even broached the subject was Madonna.

    While Hollywood came all out to support a pedophile who WAS guilty (Polanski) – where were they all when an INNOCENT man was being accused? Why didn’t they come out and hold fundraisers for HIS support and defense? They can defend Polanski (who actually DID molest someone) but not Michael (who did NOT)? The arrogance and self-servitude – not to mention the hypocrisy – of Hollywood escapes me.

  3. Heidi says:

    With the exception of Elizabeth Taylor, these sports/entertainment “celebrities” did NOTHING when their mentor needed something back from them for a change. Each and every one of them individually could have provided the needed finances for Michael so he could have gotten out from under $$$ony’s stranglehold without being forced to tour to do so. BALLSEY to now declare him a great friend and mentor. I sincerely hope that each night as they close their eyes to sleep, surrounded by their fame and fortune, they are deeply distressed knowing that The One who helped and loved them floundered, and they stood by and DID NOTHING.

  4. Solar says:

    Good points, Seven. Also, be wary of PLANT$…word is that those “fans” and “fan groups” who are very vocal all over the web in support of the bogu$ album are backed by $ONY/Estate (the Jackson family has NO say or control over the Estate)!

  5. Seven says:


    Just IMO, it may be a form of ego insecurity based on co-dependence as I wrote here:

    In other words, in many cases, I believe it’s not about Michael, it’s about THEM. Ego insecurity is a terribly blinding thing.

  6. Solar says:

    It is truly amazing that some people still refuse, for whatever reason, to see $ONY’s role in the destruction of Michael and his legacy.

    If God’s work is done through people, HOW can this be accomplished if we choose to turn a blind eye and deaf ear and let the murderers get away?

    We owe it to Michael to fight for justice, as he showed us while he was alive!

  7. Lisa MJJ1111 says:

    There are no words to describe Michael Jackson, who he is to me. To describe him only can come from the depth of my heart and soul..and man has not come up with the language for it. The few that can come close are; extraordinary, couragious, beautiful, genius, and compassionate. Everyday that goes by does not get easier, it only gets harder to deal with-for me..For it is one more day without your LIGHT-without your LOVE..This man who’s heart and genius was beyond I have ever gone. Thank you Kobe Bryant for appreciating his extraordinary intelligence and heart. We can not change Michael’s death..we cannot bring him back..God has him now..lovingly protecting him. I just wished that Kobe Bryant would have spoken up when Michael needed him, I wished all those who did not, did so, to speak on his true character, when he needed them..I wish when Michael was in a finacial deep hole, I wish all the people he helped, made into millionaires, into the best of what ever they wanted to be, those whom he gave so much millions to help their charities, those who call themselves friends were there to ralley around him, and said: “you know what WE can help you Michael, we can put a benefit concet together, we will help you raise funds.” WHERE WERE THEY??? Now that he is gone..they say Michael Must have done drugs that day or the night before..Michael put himself in that position, really? Or is it more likely that the people who conspired to MURDER HM..also had his FRIENDS in their control of fear? or money? or to loose their own reputation-maybe..To My Dear Michael, I wished I had known you-I would have been right there beside you EVERY STEP OF THE WAY..I will love you 4EVER..I will help to continue your legacy of LOVE, TRUTH, and PEACE..You are in everything that I see, hear, feel, and touch..I thank GOD everyday that a human being-angel-prophet of God existed in my life time..Your LOVE has helped me become a better person-in every way..I am kinder, I have even more compassion, I can visualize my own dreams..even more.. I will see you in paradise..RIP my KING OF HEARTS..My HEART BELONGS TO YOU…

  8. Jackie says:

    AMAZING!!!!!!! It’s so beautiful and heartwarming that Michael didn’t only inspired people through his Music and Dance but also through Michael’s Lovely Adorable Messages!!!

    That’s so sweet!!

    God Bless Michael!!!

  9. Sina says:

    Wow, Greatnes. Michael as a mental coach.
    All the people he encouraged to excellerate in their art or profession in their own words.
    To not be afraid to be different.
    That would indeed make a lovely and inspiring book or documentary.
    If anything, the MJ estate should support these kind of publications that show a surprising side of Michael that many people would not expect.
    I really hope someone will take the initiative to write the book.

  10. Michelle says:

    Great story! Thank you, Seven. Michael sure does teach us lessons, doesn’t he?

  11. melinda says:

    I hope kobe bryant always hold on to the lessons and memories michael taught him . Never forget the true friendship and keep it alive in your heart 🙂

  12. Max says:

    I appreciate Kobe speaking out for Michael now. Period. A big thank you. I would encourage others who were so touched and befriended by Michael to do the same. Wouldn’t that make a lovely book or documentary?
    And, sorry, Seven, there was no way I could NOT buy the Michael album. And I’m glad I did. Never mind Sony, my focus is totally on Michael’s vision. I regret that he couldn’t develop the songs fully and yes, they are mostly overproduced, so that sometimes his voice seems to be drowning under the music. But the ideas, the riffs, the beat, the counter harmonies–a lot of them are extraordinary on this album. It’s the kind you have to listen to again and again in order to catch every nuance. I would love to hear what Red Eye is holding onto. I like his integrity. And I appreciate the love for Michael that is so obvious in all the musicians who have made this album possible. I can even see the direction Michael would have taken with each song. It is a great tribute, and a celebration of a beautiful man and his god-given talents. Give me more. Let God take care of Sony the way He sees fit. Amen.

  13. Jeanne says:

    What a great story. Wow I just love this! Thank you.

  14. june says:

    We lived in LA; I’m a big Lakers’ fan, love Kobe, my kids grew up “with” Magic, both of whom were friends with Michael, but where were they during his darkest hours? I would love to see an article showing some support and encouragement to Michael from either of them from 2005 until his death in 2009.

  15. Seven says:

    Thank you David. I’ve changed the link to the more recent one. Actually the first paragraphs that I highlighted above are from both articles – they seem to have used the same intro for both of them ie: the 2009 article has the same intro as the recent one. But I’m happy to have link to the later one, definitely!

  16. David says:

    Seven, did you read this article on Kobe and MJ? It was posted a few weeks ago. The Yahoo article you linked to was from June 2009, and this one is more recent, and goes into further detail about their relationship.