http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AtfY.L671VvJ1mmozAAsB1G8vLYF?slug=aw-kobebryantchat112310Just the part of the article thats MJ related
Out of nowhere one afternoon, Michael Jackson made a call to the irrepressible and isolated Kobe Bryant, and so much changed for him. From a distance, the King of Pop could sense so much of his own obsessive genius within the prodigy. Bryant was the 18-year-old wonder for the Los Angeles Lakers, and no one knew what to make of a restlessness borne of a desperate desire for greatness.
“He noticed I was getting a lot of [expletive] for being different,” Bryant said.
They would talk for hours and hours, visiting at Neverland Ranch, and Bryant has long been fortified by the lessons Jackson instilled about the burden of honoring true talent, about the ways to open your mind to be smarter, sharper and insatiable in the chase.
“It sounds weird, I guess, but it’s true: I was really mentored by the preparation of Michael Jackson,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports.
Bryant isn’t much for nostalgia and sentimentality, but it hung in the air as he cut into his steak over dinner recently in the fourth-floor restaurant at the Graves Hotel. Jackson is gone, but Bryant is going on 15 years with the Lakers.
“We would always talk about how he prepared to make his music, how he prepared for concerts,” Bryant said. “He would teach me what he did: How to make a ‘Thriller’ album, a ‘Bad’ album, all the details that went into it. It was all the validation that I needed – to know that I had to focus on my craft and never waver. Because what he did – and how he did it – was psychotic. He helped me get to a level where I was able to win three titles playing with Shaq because of my preparation, my study. And it’s only all grown.
“That’s the mentality that I have – it’s not an athletic one. It’s not from [Michael] Jordan. It’s not from other athletes.
“It’s from Michael Jackson.”
Kobe Bryant arrived in the NBA as a lone wolf, has played his whole career that way, and that’s how he’ll leave the league. One of the things which Michael Jackson helped him understand was that, ultimately, you’re competing far more with your own standards, your own limits, than someone else’s. Bryant’s never run around in packs of players, never let his career be judged or driven in the context of his contemporaries.
“That’s how I am,” Bryant said. “That’s what made me tough. I didn’t need other guys to push me. This is me. I’m like this with you, and I’m like this without you. Michael [Jackson] was the same way. That was our connection.”