20 of the best Kobe Bryant inspirational quotes

To remember more than just Kobe Bryant’s legacy as a basketball player on the second anniversary of his passing, check out some of the most memorable quotes from the mind and voice of an all-time great.

Credit to various interviews with ESPN, Nike, post-game press, Muse: The Kobe Bryant Documentary, The Players’ Tribune and more.

On fault:

“When we say this can’t be done, this can’t be done, then we’re kidding ourselves. My brain can’t process failure. It will not process the fault. Because if I have to sit there and face myself and say to myself ‘you’re a failure,’ I think it’s almost worse than dying.”

On being afraid of failure:

“If you’re afraid of failing, then you’re probably going to fail.”

About the pain:

“Pain doesn’t tell you when to stop. Pain is the little voice in your head that tries to stop you because it knows that if you continue you will change. Don’t let it stop you from being who you can be. Burnout tells you when to stop. You only reach your limit when you can’t go further.”

On overcoming physical and mental obstacles:

“I have doubts. I am insecure. I am afraid of failure. I have nights where I show up in the arena and say, ‘My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don’t have it. I just want to relax. We all have doubts about ourselves. You don’t deny it, but you don’t capitulate to it either. You hug him.”

On making sacrifices to be great:

“There is a choice that we have to make as people, as individuals. If you want to be good at something, you have to make a decision. We can all be masters at our craft, but you have to make a choice. What I mean by that is that there are inherent sacrifices that come with it. Family time, hanging out with friends, being a great friend, being a great son, nephew, whatever the case may be. There are sacrifices that come along with making that decision.”

On being hated:

“Learn to love hate. Hug him. Enjoy it. You have earned it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and everyone should have one about you. Enemies are a good problem to have. Nobody hates the good guys. They hate the big ones.

To Jay Williams being asked about his work ethic after a regular season game between the Bulls and Lakers:

“I saw you walk in and I wanted you to know that no matter how hard you work, I’m willing to work harder than you.”

Realizing he was different from other NBA players:

“I never looked [basketball] as work. I didn’t realize it was work until my first year in the NBA. When I arrived, I was surrounded by other professionals and I thought basketball was going to be everything to them and it wasn’t. And I was like, ‘This is different.’ I thought that everyone was as obsessed with the game as I was. It was like, right? Oh, that’s hard work. Now I understand.”

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On comparisons to Michael Jordan:

“When I get a chance to protect Michael Jordan, I want to protect him. I want him. It’s the ultimate challenge. I don’t want to be the next Michael Jordan, I just want to be Kobe Bryant.”

About laziness:

“I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you. I don’t want to understand you.”

To win:

“Winning takes precedence over everything. There is no gray area. No cassis.

On the difference between losers and winners:

“Losers visualize the penalties of failure. Winners visualize the rewards of success.”

On being a leader:

“Leadership is lonely…I’m not going to be afraid of confrontation to get us where we need to go. There’s a big misconception that people think that winning or success comes from everyone hugging each other and singing kumbaya and giving them pats on the back when they’re wrong, and that’s not the reality. If you’re going to be a leader, you’re not going to please everyone. You have to hold people accountable. Even if you have that awkward moment.”

On the nickname “The Black Mamba”:

“I create my own path. It was straight and narrow. I looked at it this way: either you were in my way, or you were out of it. If you came between me and the game, I’d punch you in the back and not feel bad about it. I was unapologetically myself. That’s all I ever wanted to be. I never cared about my reputation, that’s how I earned it. That’s how I became the Black Mamba.”

On his shot selection:

“I have shot too much since I was 8 years old. But ‘too much’ is a matter of perspective. Some people thought that Mozart had too many notes in his compositions. Let me put it this way: I entertain people who say I shoot too much. I find it very interesting. Returning to Mozart, he responded to critics by saying that there were not too many notes and not too few. There were as many as needed.”

On bad shooting nights:

“I would go 0 of 30 [from the field] before going 0 out of 9. 0 out of 9 means you beat yourself, you took yourself out of the game mentally. … The only reason is because you just lost your self-confidence.”

(NBA Getty Images)

On being a father:

“Use your success, wealth, and influence to put them in the best position to realize their own dreams and find their true purpose. Put them through school, schedule job interviews, and help them become leaders in their own right. Keep them at the same level of hard work and dedication that it took to get you to where you are now and where you will eventually go.”

On leaving his mark on the game:

“Be an event, every night. Something witnessed. Not just observed. I had a different drive. The kind that made people uneasy. Some people wanted him to come back down to earth. To get down to his level. Relax. But I could not. It wasn’t in my DNA. Because to go where others have never gone, you have to do what others have never done.”

Being reminded:

“It’s the only thing you can control. You are responsible for how people remember you, or not. So don’t take it lightly. If you do it right, your game will live on in others. You will be imitated and emulated by those you played with, those you played against, and those who never saw you play. So leave everything on the field. Leave the game better than you found it. And when the time comes for you to go, leave a legend.”

On the end of his basketball career:

“There’s beauty in that. I mean, it’s going through the cycle. I mean, it’s the cycle that is the natural progression of growth, of maturation. I mean, there’s no sadness in that… I see the beauty in not being able to get past defenders, you know what I mean? I see the beauty of waking up in the morning and being in pain because I know all the hard work it took to get to this point, I’m not sad about it. I’m very grateful for what I’ve had.”

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