The late five-time champion and Lakers great Kobe Bryant may be known as one of the most driven athletes in recent sports history. It is a rare occurrence that Kobe needed any more motivation than the fact that he simply wanted to be the best of all time.
While running mate-turned-rival Shaquille O’Neal was already enjoying success in Miami following the pair’s breakup, it took Kobe a couple of years to once again taste championship contention. In the ’08 playoffs, Bryant led his Lakers to a classic Finals matchup with the Celtics.
After Boston took home the crown, though, WNBA legend Sue Bird recounts what exactly she saw Bryant do in order to create motivation for the comeback.
And yes, in some small way, it worked.
Bryant started up his revenge tour with a Finals victory in 2009 against Orlando, but the job was not finished. He wanted to get another meeting with LA’s heated rival to leave his mark on the narrative between the two greatest franchises in league history. In 2010, Kobe did just that by clinching his fifth title.
While Bryant was using Boston and 2008 Finals MVP Paul Pierce as motivation, there was also another clear motive to get that fifth ring.
With Bird noticing such a small gesture like cutting out a clipping of Pierce, she knew that Kobe meant all business at all times. Bryant would not have been able to be satisfied with his NBA career if he did not take down Boston. Two years after his devastating Finals loss, he did just that.