Strength and Honor. Not just words from the Gladiator movie starring Russell Crowe, but a real code that Kobe Bryant lives by. The mantra is even on his website. And, he signs all his letters to his fans this way.
That's because Kobe embodies everything that makes a real warrior. He possess the talent and the mind but also the determination to win the war. He treats each game like a battle, each possession a skirmish. He is both methodical and spontaneous.
“Veni. Vedi. Vici.” That phrase is Italian for “I came, I saw, I conquered.” More words the warrior Kobe follows. Again, take a look at kb24.com.
He trains like a real Gladiator, pushing his work ethic beyond anything the NBA has ever seen. He is more than dedicated, owing his grit to becoming a legend.
Kobe knew what was at stake in Game Six. This series is all-out war.
The latest game was another night in a deadly engagement. That is why Kobe played like he lives—a Gladiator in the arena, the loser thrown to the lions. Kobe refused to go quietly nor roll over. He has an unquenched thirst that drives him, fueling the eternal fire in his belly.
He wants that fifth NBA title. Like a solider, he is committed to total warfare, leaving everything on the battlefield. This is a scorch the earth mentality. Fans are left to wonder how he can be so focused, so determined, so lost in the moment.
But Kobe has his most secret weapon of all. It is the Gladiator mentality. He lives in the present, knowing each moment, each opportunity may be his last. He trains like a rookie. Prepares like a benchwarmer wanting true minutes. No one views more tape than Kobe. He watches current players and studies the legends from era’s past. Nothing gets by him.
He’s always looking, searching for something more, some tendency, some new wrinkle to add to his arsenal. He is that General always looking for the edge, the strategist calculating each minute detail. He is the foot solider, willing to barrel forward with physical force in the face of certain death.
To Kobe, this is the Art of War and he is pushing himself to master it. And now, he has one more game remaining. Destiny awaits.
But this war is real and the Celtics are an equal foe. The Lakers took Game Six not just on hard work but real effort. Defense was the key as was the fact that the flow to their offense returned. Kobe got that help everyone in the media, and himself, wished for and demanded.
The Lakers’ Pau Gasol rose up and displayed the latent strength he has deep inside. He stood side by side with Kobe, in the face of annihilation and won. His 17 points weren’t all that he brought to the Lakers’ victory. The 13 rebounds and the little things showed his real honor. The real shocker was that he was only one assist away from a triple double. Yes, a triple double from the Lakers’ center/power forward.
But the other real hero of Game Six was the Lakers’ bench. Starting with Lamar Odom and down the line, the subs came to play. They too knew what was on the line and delivered.
And although he didn’t play the second half, Andrew Bynum was also warrior-like in Game Six. He is playing on one knee and gritted it out. His presence on the floor was vital to the Lakers’ success in the first quarter. He will be needed in the decisive Game Seven.
Bynum learned this toughness from Kobe, who is also a wounded animal with the broken finger and damaged knee. But that kind of animal is the most dangerous and Boston forgot that.
The Celtics have the Lakers’ backs against the wall. That is a scary spot, not just for LA, but for Boston. Kobe might be wounded but he is far from weak. He will dig deeper, conquer, or die trying. His teammates seemed to have gotten the memo and now possess this same attitude.
But Boston will not roll over. They are to be respected. This is a team of warriors as well. Down to the man, these are players we might not like but deserve our admiration. They too are willing to die on that battlefield.
Game Seven will take even more from Kobe and his teammates. A championship hangs in the balance. He will either walk away hoisting another NBA trophy or he will be carried out of the arena on his shield.
Strength and Honor, always. Veni. Vedi. Vici.