Kobe Bryant held the 13th — and first post-retirement — signature shoe release with Nike at the MAMA gallery in downtown Los Angeles.  It had a very morbid feel, so Micah Peters of The Ringer, asked Bryant about death in the literal sense, and the death of his basketball career.

via The Ringer:

We are sitting on top of a Mesoamerican muralist painting of a clock basically being orbited by specters of past versions of yourself, with past versions of your shoe. I got to ask, because I feel like the setting’s begging for it: What’s your relationship with death?

A comfortable one.


It’s a comfortable one. It’s an understanding. You can’t have life without death. Can’t have light without the dark. So it’s an acceptance of that. When it came time to decide whether or not I should retire, [it was] really an acceptance of that mortality that all athletes face. And if you combat it, you’ll always have that inner struggle within yourself. … So … I’m comfortable with it.

In The Wall Street Journal, you said that you’d been planning this phase as early as three years back. What was the moment that made you decide to start planning?

Well, the injury. When I injured my Achilles, then it became something where it’s, OK, this is immediate, right? The end of my career could be now. So since I was 21 years old and thinking, OK, I have to figure out what comes next. You kind of brainstorm, you ideate, but you never really execute anything. And when the injury happened, I said, “OK, no, I need to start building now.” And that’s when the turning point was for me.

What does a turning point feel like? If you have something that’s been a part of you for two decades, it’s kind of like a part of yourself dies, obviously, with where we’re sitting.

It’s exciting.

It’s exciting?

It is exciting, because it’s the process of starting anew. When I’m sitting there and I have the Achilles injury, it’s one thing to sit there and try to block out the frustrations of being injured, because that’s … You’re constantly tugging with that, right, as opposed to simply replacing that with a new challenge. Something that gets you excited. So now you’re not focused on not being depressed. You’re focused on the excitement of building something new. And so, it was extremely exciting, having to figure something out.

It’s like trying to find a new version of yourself.

Yes. And build it from the ground up.

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