Kobe Bryant went on Good Morning America on Monday to discuss his new animated short film Dear Basketball, which is being entered in the Tribeca Film Festival. Robin Roberts asked him straight up if he missed the game and his answer was so good it had the crew clapping.
“No, I don’t. No, it’s crazy but I started playing when I was 2, and so after playing for 20 years in the league — what I have now is, everything I’ve learned from the game I carry with me to this day. So, the game’s never truly left me. Physically? Yes, but emotionally and in the things that I write all stem from the game. So, it’s still a part of me, and then the other thing is that for athletes that come next understanding that there is a finality to it. Right? And that’s OK. It’s very hard to let go of something that you’ve done for half your life and it’s kinda become who you are — but there’s a difference between doing what you do, versus understanding that is not who you are. Hopefully other athletes can see that and understand that.”
Walking away from the game is something athletes struggle with in all sports. It marks not just the end of an era, but a need to find another path in life — which can be exceptionally difficult, no matter how much money you have in the bank. It’s a disconnect fans often have with athletes and don’t understand how anyone could struggle after earning the kind of money professional athletes do, without appreciating the need to find a new purpose. Kobe has done that perfectly.
It’s absolutely worth watching the full clip from GMA because Kobe goes on to discuss how he loves the game and things that he misses, including the smell of the ball — as well as his new animated film.