Publish date:

KOBE BRYANT

Author:

THE WIZENARD SERIES: TRAINING CAMP, A NEW YOUNG ADULT NOVEL BY THE LAKERS LEGEND, DROPS MARCH 19

SI: The coach you've created in this book, Rolabi Wizenard—that is absolutely Phil Jackson, right?

KB: [Laughs.] It's bits and pieces of everyone. Bill Russell was a great mentor to me, so when you look at Rolabi's description, you'll see a lot of him as well. But, yeah, the majority of this guy is Phil Jackson with a little splash of Tex Winter and some of my high school coach Gregg Downer.

SI: Has Phil read this?

KB: He has read it. He was really excited and proud of how I'm using different forms of media to try to give knowledge to the next generation. Because at his heart, Phil's a teacher.

SI: One of my favorite things is the strange exercises the coach puts his players through. Making them watch a flower grow, things like that. What's the most unorthodox drill a coach ever made you do?

KB: Phil had us doing tai chi before practice. He brought in a tai chi master, and we were doing poses like Monk Gazing at Moon. Phil used to burn incense and do all kinds of stuff.

SI: You hope to publish five books by the end of 2020?

KB: We have five stories already created. The next two have been written. Stories 4 and 5 are in second draft stage now.

SI: I'm from North Carolina and went to UNC—we've heard a lot of stories over the years that you were almost a Tar Heel. True?

KB: I wanted to go to Carolina because I wanted to follow Vince Carter. I wanted to be part of Carolina's history and tradition.... Dean Smith wrote me a letter and said, "I've seen you play, and from what I hear, you're going to go to the pros, so I'm just going to wish you the best of luck. If you ever change your mind, just consider this as a home for you." And then at the end of the letter he said, "P.S., stop wearing out Jerry Stackhouse."

SI: You have rapping and acting in your background. You've won an Oscar. Are you trying to be the first NBAer to win the EGOT?

KB: I enjoy stories and creating content that's going to move people. I enjoy creating things that you can look at and say, That forced me to look inward and challenge myself, or challenge others. We're going to look to take the Wizenard series to live theater. It's hard to look at this story and say it is a movie or a TV series. The way we've created it, we really believe live theater is the best place for this story to live.