Kobe Bryant has announced that 2015-2016 will be his final season as a professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association. In his illustrious 20 year career, he has torched millions with his inspirational passion and drive for the game of basketball. His excellence and spirit has left more than a handful of anecdotes and lessons for the world. In reverence and tribute to an all-time legend in basketball, here is a compilation of 24 Life-Changing Lessons We Can Learn From Kobe Bryant.

24. Extraordinary People Have Unconventional Experiences

Be it starting out his childhood in a foreign land of Italy as a minority, be it having to adjust the move back to USA in his teenage years, be it being drafted straight from high school into the NBA together with college seniors. Kobe has no lack of unconventional experiences. It is perhaps his unique set of encounters that promoted his resilient strength. It is perhaps his constant slew of new challenges to overcome that laid the conditions for his punishingly determined work ethic. His unconventional experiences just might be the reason for his unconventional success and dominance.

23. When You Find Your Passion You Will Never Have To Go To Work

When asked his experience in his rookie year in the NBA, Kobe mentioned in an interview that he was surprised at the low level of commitment of a few of the experienced players then. It was much lower than what he had expected of professional players as compared to what he was already doing as a rookie. He vividly recalled putting in many hours each day practicing his craft and training at the gymnasium.  “So, this is called ‘hard work’ …” he commented. Indeed, the young Kobe had already found his passion in basketball and all the preparation for the game of basketball was pure enjoyment to him, rather than feeling like work.

22. Improving Yourself Takes Place At Any Time

Kobe’s tireless zest for improvement is really timeless. There was this famous example quoted by someone who had worked with Kobe during his Team USA Basketball days. In short, it happened some random late night (wee hours of the morning) when Kobe decided to do “some” conditioning work. It ended up with hours of strength and conditioning training, ending off with shooting jumpers. 800 made shots to be specific. Something that started around 4 plus in the morning ultimately ended with Kobe not leaving the facility until the next day’s Team USA training starts. And Kobe went through the whole Team USA training too. So there is no excuse of no time to improve yourself, any time is a good time to start.

21. There Are More Than One Route To Rome

Wining is a goal. There are many ways to win. Many ways to reach the same goal. Throughout his career, Kobe had rotated through different roles, from point guard to shooting guard to forward. He does whatever the team needs to win. He can be the most prolific shooter on the floor on one end. He can also be the most intense defender on the other end of the floor. As long as it gets the team the “W”, you can bet that Kobe will do it.

Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton
Harry How/Getty Images

20. Together Everyone Achieves More

Despite being an outstanding competitor that he is, Kobe also understands strength in numbers. In his decorated career, he had given defining moments of trust in his team mates at crucial points of decision to make that clutch shot. On 13 May 2004, Derek Fisher was the one who made the clutch turnaround jump shot with 0.4 seconds on the clock left. The Los Angeles Lakers took game 5 with a 74-73 victory. The Lakers established a lead of 3-2 in their second-round series, ultimately beating the Spurs in 6 games. On 17 June 2010, Metta World Peace (then known as Ron Artest) made a three-pointer with 1 minute 1 second remaining in the game that allowed the Lakers a 79-73 lead. The Lakers eventually secured a 16th NBA title for the franchise with their game 7 victory of 83-79 over the Celtics. All these victories were made possible because of Kobe’s trust of the power of a team.

19. Your Network Is Your Net worth

It is a public secret that throughout Kobe’s colorful career, he has sought the advice and mentor-ship of many greats, including Hakeen Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Jerry West. He was not shy of picking up the telephone and dialing up coaching staff, training staff, medical staff or other specialists for help when the need arises. Kobe is also someone who takes proactive actions to improve with the help of those around him. Reports of Kobe reaching out to outstanding players for meals or chats in attempts to persuade them to join the the Lakers were also heard of from time to time. Indeed, Kobe has shown us that our network is there to multiply our learning, expertise and net worth.

Kobe Bryant, Kristaps Porzingis
Christopher Pasatieri/New York Post

18. Eagles Soar And Hens Peck

True leaders of the field spend time grinding out their best while others are busy bantering. True winners use spare moments to work on their craft to get better each day while others lavish at the opportunity to laze. True champions seek out their paths to success while others wait to be told what to do. Kobe is such a leader, winner and champion who has seized all chances in his 20 year legendary career to strive for excellence … yes, while others are merely dreaming it.

17. Feed Off The Negative Chatter As Motivation

One unique and powerful trait about Kobe is his ability to appear unaffected by negative criticism. All the naysayers do not seem to pull down his fighting spirit any bit nor dampen his emotions. Instead, over his long career, Kobe has often used these negative chatter as positive motivation to spur him on. Pretty smart move to leverage on the unfavorable to create a favorable condition to excel, don’t you think so?

Kobe Bryant last game jumpshot

16. Each Master Was Once A Disaster

If there is anything encouraging about a flop, it is that it shows you the area you can improve on. When Kobe first entered the league, he did not have it like a bed of roses. In his first couple of years, it was actually tough for him, facing the doubters and naysayers. There were those who felt that he was still too young to be playing among the grown men. Others laughed at his brash ambitions. It did not help when Kobe started off with limited minutes off the bench and had to adjust to the stark difference in treatment from being the number 1 go-to-option as a senior in Lower Merion High School to becoming a reserve, a second or third option at that. Whenever he was picked to suit up, he faced issues on getting his rhythm and being used to the different setting each time. Air balls and bad execution were common. It did not help when Kobe did not have the best chemistry with the veterans in the initial years. All this did not deter Kobe. It only taught him what areas he needed to focus on. The rest, like they say, is history.

15. When There Is A Will There Is A Way

Among the storied 20 seasons Kobe had with the Lakers, there were a few instances where his tenacity was put to the brutal test. 1 such instance is during times when he was sick and a game was on the line. As if his mind was able to overcome his body’s ailments or psychologically push beyond his limits, Kobe was surprisingly able to deliver in such times. Notably, Bryant picked the team up while being sick in the game against the Bucks  in 2008, muscling his way to bring about a 110-105 victory. He was still able to pour in 37 points battling a viral upper respiratory infection. Talk about willpower.

Draymond Green Kobe Bryant
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

14. Expand Your Vessel And You Expand Your Contents

Reaching the pinnacle of one’s career would perhaps lead many to decide to hang it up or relax a little. Not for Kobe. For him, it was always about the next challenge, the next level, the next better version of himself. Kobe was not someone who would rest on his laurels. It is not in his DNA to do so. Winning scoring titles, NBA titles, MVPs, Olympic Gold medals … all those that others can only dream of, was never an end point for Kobe. It was always the door to more. In him we see the insatiable desire to expand the vessel, to strive for excellence, to stay hungry for success.

13. Prepare Your Best And Expect The Worst

In this day and age of sports, you sometimes see professional sportsmen throwing tantrums or losing sportsmanship in the face of defeat. In this regard, Kobe was commendable in that he always plays his best but does not involve himself with the theatrics of bad sportsmanship after each game. What happens on court stays on court. When all is said and done, you can expect Kobe to be a winner enough to accept it as a report card for his improvement plan next season.

12. You Can Be Born A Shooter But You Must Be Made A Winner

No one could argue much about the flair and excellence of Kobe’s stellar career. The black mamba did share his realist approach to his game that allowed him to maintain his amazing level of success throughout his 20 years in the NBA. On an occasion, 28 Jan 2013, Kobe commented that “I was probably born a scorer, but i was made a winner. Whatever works, whatever wins championships, wins games, that’s what i do.” Truely, a lesson from the legend himself.

11. Success Is A Lifestyle

Many of the NBA players, coaches or staff who have worked with or against Kobe will agree that no matter whether you love or hate him, you have got to give your hats off to his commitment to success. If you are on the same team as Kobe, be it Lakers or Team USA or All Star Team, you can bet your last dollar that Kobe is going to outwork any hardest working person on the team. Kobe is one of the epitome of excellence in our generation’s NBA players. His undying spirit, perseverance and effort has shown that in order to be successful, you not only have to treat success as a goal, but as a habit, as a way of life, as a lifestyle.

Andrew D. Berstein/GettyImages

10. Your Attitude Not Your Aptitude Determines Your Altitude

As they say, greatness respect greatness. One of the greatest legends in NBA, Michael Jordan, was notably quoted on many instances complimenting, paying tribute and even defending Kobe’s all-around excellence as a basketball player. One of the key impression that shone through in Michael Jordan’s many accounts on Kobe was his positive feedback on his attitude that enabled Kobe to reach great altitudes of his career’s success. As much as the hype went on throughout Kobe’s career on his talents and abilities, a lot of the credit had to go to Kobe’s impressive work ethic and his awesome attitude, which deserves our emulation.

9. Recreate The Peak Performance State For Continued Success

If there is anything that Kobe excelled at during his illustrious career, it would be his uncanny ability to be successful. His knack for consistently putting himself and his team in a position to win in those championship years was admirable. The effort he puts in is detailed to the extend that on one occasion, a 2 year period, Kobe listened to the same soundtrack just to recreate the frustration and bad feeling of losing to the Celtics in a finals. He was quoted:

“I remember when we were losing [in Game 6 in 2008], they played that Journey song [‘Don’t Stop Believin’] and the whole arena started singing that song, and I hated that damn song for two years. Seriously,” Bryant said.

“But I listened to that song every single day because it just reminded me of that feeling. Same thing with the Dropkick Murphys [song ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston’]. I’m listening to Dropkick Murphys all the time just because I want to remember that feeling.”

Kobe Shaq
Getty Images

8. Failures Are Your Best Teachers

Laker fans would remember the Celtics 2008 NBA championship where Lakers fell in 6 games to the Celtics. Tracing the storied rivalry between these 2 legendary franchises, it makes you realize how much more difficult to swallow this defeat was for the Lakers. Nevertheless, Kobe and his team mates freeze-framed all their mistakes, areas for improvement and weaknesses from the encounter. The following season was nothing short of redeeming for the Lakers as Kobe led the team to clinch the championship against the Orlando Magic in 2009. Their experience in battling and losing to the stellar 2008 Celtics team also helped them gain new advantage when they clash again for the 2010 championship, this time with Kobe and Lakers triumphant.

7. Seize The Problem And Break It Down

In the twilight of his basketball career, Kobe had a series of injuries that would have ended most professional players’ career with a daunting halt. For Kobe, it was merely another chapter, another experience, another challenge … waiting for him to seize, breakdown and rebuild his game. Rebuild he did. Through almost 9 months of rehabilitation, Kobe was able to return to the floor ahead of schedule and was up and running (literally) again. He was no longer the dominant player he was but his amazing comeback was evidence of Kobe’s ability to take on a problem and devour it with meticulous dedication and hard work.

kobe bryant, lakers
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

6. Focus On The Moment A Step At A Time

Perhaps his time under the tutelage of ‘zen’ coach Phil Jackson has taught him to attain a superior mental state of calm and control in defining moments. Kobe was always in control and in absolute focus when the game is on the line. “Never get too high, never get too low. Focus on the game.” Vaguely, this statement came up sometime in Kobe’s career, sometime in the playoffs when adrenaline and pressures are at high octane levels. Spoken like a true winner. They say winners operate with a different operating system and mentality. Kobe probably epitomizes this trait very well.

5. You Can Lose Some Battles But Still Win The War

For many times in his 20 year career, Kobe and the Lakers fell in a chasing situation where their team started a season or a playoff series with a slump. They might have a 3 to 4 game losing streak in the regular season or lag behind 2-3 in a playoff series. In such instances, you can almost be certain that Kobe Bryant is never going to keep lying down and beaten. Being the competitor that he is, Kobe had shown that the team can turn around a losing streak or a disadvantaged series to a winning situation in the end. Losing battles along the way is part of the experience of learning about yourself and your team. Through his endeavors, Kobe proved that if you stay focused, you can still win the war.

4. Framing Your Perspectives Re-energizes You

Ask a normal person who has done a job for 20 years and you might expect him to give you some aspects of it that may be mundane or become boring over the two decades. Not for Kobe. Being a basketball fanatic and competitor that he is, he never ceases to amaze us with his framing of perspectives, that re-energizes his love for the game ever more from year to year. There was always something new to take on as a challenge for the new season. From working to get into the starting line-up as a rookie to practicing to win the Slam Dunk contest in 1997. From fighting for NBA titles to pushing for the scoring title. From readjustment to changing team mates to coming back from injuries. Kobe never fails to make the game of basketball stay intriguing and challenging.

3. It Is Not The Strongest Or Fastest That Succeed But The Most Adaptable

The audience of the NBA would agree that the Kobe in the 1990s, 2000s and post 2010s have shown a transition of style of play, approach and intensity. This comes from the adaptability of Kobe and his relentless search for perfection in his game. The early Kobe was one who played with great flamboyance and energy, such as those fancy dunks and aggressive drives. The prime Kobe was one who exhibited defensive intensity and relentless shooting, such as his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors and his many defensive accolades in All-NBA Defensive teams. It is his adaptability, above all else, that explained his longevity in the NBA.

michael jordan, kobe bryant, bulls, lakers
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

2. An Idealist In Aspiration And A Realist In Practice

Much of what we heard of Kobe is his drive for success and high aspirations. What is less discussed of is his willingness to be a realist. When hit with his injury-filled seasons, Kobe was frustrated. He was angry but he knew what he could control and what he could not. In those down periods, Kobe was wise not to focus on the negatives. Instead, he focused on what needs to be done, what needs to be healed, how he can do it, breaking down the huge task of recovery into day-to-day steps. He did that because he is a realist. He did that because he knows that is what he could do within the limits of his body and he would be relentless at that. The efforts paid off, resulting in his return to the court in his 20th year in the NBA, playing his farewell games against the 29 other teams in 2016.

1. Success Is When Preparation And Opportunity Meet

Being straight out from Lower Merion High School, Kobe was lucky to have been drafted into the NBAat the tender age of 17. Luck, however, could only carry someone so far. For young Kobe, this fact of life probably stood out from day 1. It is widely known that Kobe’s work ethic over the last 20 years as a pro had been nothing short of phenomenal. Some say beyond human. He would always be the one of the earliest at work in the facility, always working on improving some aspect of his game, always on “attack mode”. This impeccable quality came through as an edge when opportunities came for Kobe to shine. His career rose to celestial heights with the right mix of laborious effort and great opportunities. It is also an inspirational reminder for us that success is within reach if you put in the preparation work.