Kobe on the Backlash

They said he was too young and too selfish. That just made Kobe work harder.

Updated: April 17, 2003, 6:06 PM ET
By Kobe Bryant with Ric Bucher, ESPN The Magazine
Thick skin. That's what I needed most coming directly to the NBA from high school. I was young and getting a lot of attention, and that brought on a lot of jealousy. Especially after shooting those damn air balls. People said, "He's too young to take those shots, he's going to fall off the face of the earth now." Then the following year I started in the All-Star Game when I wasn't even starting on my own team. People talked like I stuffed the ballot box.

But I wasn't coming out of college and getting a lot of undeserved hype and praise. When that happens, you're not motivated to work on your game, because people already are touting you as the next great thing. A lot of people wanted to see me fail. Doubters said I made the wrong decision. No matter what they said, I wouldn't budge in my belief in myself. It just increased my determination not to fail.