Kobe Bryant says he sometimes used to wish that he played an individual sport like tennis instead of basketball

kobe bryant

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What if Kobe Bryant did not stick with basketball?

  • Kobe Bryant said he had frustrating moments during his NBA career where he wished he played an individual sport instead of basketball.
  • Bryant said he liked the idea of the mental challenges that come with an individual sport like tennis vs. a team sport.
  • Bryant sat in Naomi Osaka's box at the U.S. Open and saw the 21-year-old win in straight sets to advance.
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Kobe Bryant is known as one of the greatest NBA players of all-time, but in an alternate universe, he would have played an entirely different sport.

Speaking with Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim from the U.S. Open, Bryant said there were times in his career where he wished he played an individual sport like tennis instead of basketball.
"There would be things sometimes during the Lakers season when things would be really stressful. And I would just sit around thinking man, I wish I played an individual sport," Bryant said.

Bryant said he likes the mental challenge of an individual sport.

"There's something even more challenging in individual sports, you have to deal with the inner challenge," he said. "You have to be able to deal with the uncertainties from shot-to-shot or the disappointments in shot-to-shot, because it's just you out there. Right, so having to navigate through those emotions presents a new set of challenges."

Colin Kaepernick and Kobe Bryant at the US Open

Danielle Parhizkaran/USA Today Sports

Kobe Bryant at the 2019 US Open.

Bryant said he's only taken up tennis in retirement and that he's not particularly good. He told Wertheim that after retiring, his former agent and current Los Angeles Lakers GM Rob Pelinka invited him to a tennis club and they played for over three hours.

Bryant also told Wertheim that he sees some similarities between basketball and tennis in the footwork and the challenges of rhythm and timing.Bryant on Thursday was in the Naomi Osaka's box along with Colin Kaepernick. They weren't there long, however, as Osaka later said she wanted to win in straight sets to keep them from being the sun too long.