Kobe Bryant patterned his basketball game after one of the all-time greats, Michael Jordan.
It's hard to argue with the results.
Still just 34 years old, there's time to build on his already impressive resume, which includes one MVP, five NBA championships and the fifth-best scoring career in league history (31,056 points and counting).
Apparently, Bryant doesn't plan on slowing his imitation of Jordan anytime soon.
With thoughts of retirement already creeping into his mind (he told Damon Jones at All-Star Weekend that he had "two years max" left in the NBA), Bryant recently told reporters he'll use Jordan as his guide to life after basketball (via the Kamenetzky Brothers of SheridanHoops.com):
[Jordan] has the gift and the curse of having gone first...I have the gift and the curse of having gone second. I get a chance to watch and learn from things that he's done. The good and the bad.
As two of the most competitive players in the history of professional sports, there isn't an off button for them to switch once their playing days are over. Bryant understands this, saying that one of the keys to enjoying retirement will be finding "something you can sink your teeth into and obsess about."
While it doesn't quite sound like he knows exactly what that will be yet, he did make it sound as though he's been seriously thinking about life after basketball:
I think [the key to handling the end of your career is] finding an area before you retire that you want to do, that you want to be passionate about...I think that's really the biggest challenge for every athlete, is to find something that you really want to do. A lot of us wait until the last year, until you retire, and try to figure that out. Then it takes five or whatever years. Some people never figure it out. I've tried to begin that process.
Jordan has traveled down various avenues during his retirement. He owns Michael Jordan Motorsports, a motorcycle racing team competing in the AMA Pro Superbike Series. Since March 2010, he's served as the majority owner and managing member of basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats.
It's hard to imagine Bryant not following Jordan into the front office, although that's not to suggest any guarantee of franchise ownership in his future. Bryant's one of the premier students of the game and knows the sport's many intricacies.
Of course, Jordan was a great basketball mind as well. And his Bobcats have been mired in one of the worst two-year stretches in NBA history (20-103 since the start of the 2011-12 season).
Needless to say, Bryant hasn't missed any of Jordan's post-playing days steps, both (in his words) "the good and the bad" ones.
Jordan laid out the blueprint for Bryant, and he's clearly learning from Jordan's experience.