1. He once studied great white sharks to defend Allen Iverson

Of course I had to start with this. Other players would have just let a 41-point Allen Iverson game slide and chalk it up as one of those nights when The Answer would dominate on the offensive end (as he usually did). But Kobe was not any other player. After being on the receiving end of that 41-point, 10-assist game from AI, Kobe said he resorted to studying how great white sharks hunt seals near South Africa to be able to defend AI better. And you know what, it actually worked. In a succeeding encounter, Kobe held Iverson to a scoreless second half which was a feat I still consider to be as close to impossible as it can get.


2. He sank two free throws with a torn achilles tendon

When it comes to sports injuries, an achilles tear is quite possibly the worst you can get. Most players who tear their achilles have to immediately be helped off the court, DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant included. But Kobe would have none of that. After tearing his achilles in a game against the Warriors, he got up on his own and even shot (and made) two free throws to tie the game in the 4th quarter. We didn’t know it was an achilles tear them but knowing it now, that was one of most badass moves we’ve seen ever. Because of his age then, we fully expected Kobe to either retire or spend at least a year rehabbing the injury before returning to the court. Kobe returned after eight months.

3. Kobe used to workout before sunrise, even for the Olympics

Team USA has always been a juggernaut in international basketball and you’d think Kobe would allow himself the luxury of slacking off a bit during the Olympics because it’s the off-season and he knows he has other superstars with him to carry the load. But as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh recall, Kobe was already done with his morning workout as all the other players were coming down from their hotel rooms for breakfast on Day 1 of their Beijing Olympics training camp. If that doesn’t make you admire at least the guy’s work ethic, I don’t know what will.

4. He has an Oscar

Is there anything this guy couldn’t do? On a shelf somewhere in Kobe’s home (probably) are 5 championship rings, 2 Finals MVP trophies, a regular season MVP trophy, a Slam Dunk Contest trophy, and an Oscar. Yes, an Oscar. It might seem random to those who aren’t familiar with Mamba Mentality but Kobe seems to want to win more than anyone else in anything he does and that apparently includes winning an Academy Award for Best Animated Short. The winning piece was Dear Basketball, which was based on a letter he wrote announcing his retirement from basketball. The animated short was directed by Glen Keane who worked on Disney classics like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, with music soundtrack GOAT John Williams providing the score.

5. Kobe doesn’t even flinch

Do I even need to explain this further? Matt Barnes was only a few inches away from hitting Kobe in the face but the Black Mamba did not flinch at all. On a scale of 1 to Bruce Lee, that was definitely a Bruce Lee level of zen and confidence I witnessed that day.