Is he the next Michael Jordan?
At 22, Kobe Bryant has become a basketball phenomenon. Some compare his talent to Michael Jordan's. Bryant skipped college and went directly into the NBA. Today, five years later, he has learned to play the brand of offense that has made the Los Angeles Lakers almost unstoppable, but he tells 60 Minutes II correspondent Charlie Rose that his own game doesnt match that of the Lakers offense. Rose asks Bryant if he can be happy playing in that offense.
"Completely happy? No,but happy enough to win? Yeah,and thats good enough for me," he says.
Unlike many professional athletes, Bryant prefers practicing basketball to partying with friends or teammates. He tells Rose that when he isnt practicing, hes working out and when he isnt working out, hes studying game tapes in his room.
While his talent and commitment to the sport have helped guide the Lakers through a great season, Bryant has had difficulty with some of his teammates, especially superstar Shaquille ONeal. "Something wasn't right... I mean, I go to practice and I feel a little uncomfortable," says Bryant. "Well, it was about me. It was about them thinking I was out for myself and I was being selfish - which was totally not the case."
Since he began practicing the Lakers brand of offense, the team stands to make history, becoming the first basketball team ever to plow through the playoffs undefeated.
Thats why it may be hard for Bryant to complain. He has a $ 71 million contract, plus earns millions more in advertising endorsements. Madison Avenue loves his winning personality - and has even found a way to put his fluent Italian, acquired during a childhood in Italy, to use.
All this has made him one of the highest paid 22-year-olds in the world.
Recently, he bought a new toy: a Ferrari Modena that he says hes wanted since he was a child.
You know what it feels like in that Ferrari?, he asks. Feels like you're strapped to a rocket. Vrooom!
The son of Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, an eight-year veteran of the NBA, Bryant grew up in Italy, where his father continued in the game. The younger Bryant played basketball there too, but it wasnt as competitive as the hoops in American playgrounds.
I was in sixth grade, he recalls. And I came - you know, 'cuz living overseas, basketball over there is a lot easier than it is in America, right? So I come back to America in the summertime. I'm playing in a summer league, and I don't score a point the whole summer.
His years in Italy also brought him closer to his family. We didn't speak the language, we didn't know anybody. We had to bond with one another - more so than anything, he remembers.
Just a few weeks ago, Bryant married Vanessa Laine, whom he met two years ago when she was just 17. Of their match, he says, She's jut it. She's just the one. I knew it.