What Kaizen Swimmers Can Learn from Kobe Bryant
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on November 24th, 2009

Fine Tuned with age, Kobe Bryant’s Game Keeps Evolving


I’m not a follower of the NBA , but am a  keen student of the Kaizen (Continuous Improvement) attitude. This NY Times article yields lessons of value to any of us.

Kobe was one of the first to jump straight from HS to NBA.  One reason is he was “freakishly talented.”  What is hoops “talent” ? Height, quickness, “jumps,”  preternatural body control, etc.  But the list of other freakishly talented players who bypassed college for the NBA is littered  with disappointments and never-wuzzes. As well, students of the game mourn the decay of “fundamentals” in today’s game.

As this article relates, Kobe has improved continuously — most importantly,  not just in his own game,  but in his ability to make his teammates better which is what people most revere about Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

In the NBA the last guy at the end of the bench is almost always freakishly talented compared to the earthbound lot of us. It’s exciting – even scary – when the guy with  perhaps the most talent in the league keeps improving.

Many players — even after just a few years – repeat the same year of experience over and over. The Kobe Difference is to abhor complacency – even after years of being called the best player in the world. Tiger Woods has done the same – breaking down his game to make it better . . . even when no one else on the PGA Tour was playing remotely as well!

A few quotes:

“. . . the diversity of his scoring that night underlined that in his 14th N.B.A. season, Bryant continues to massage, mold and morph his game.

“The strengths that I have now were weaknesses when I was a kid.

“He’s always trying a new angle,” Knicks Coach Mike D’Antoni said. “His work ethic is better than anybody I’ve seen, so . . . he’ll keep getting to be a better basketball player.”

“The numbers show that Bryant has become a more efficient player as he has aged.”

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