After being measured, guarded and distant in his younger days, Bryant has gloriously embraced the virtual world, and his fans have reaped the benefits. In fact, he's become one of the best public figures to follow on Twitter in any capacity.
His torn Achilles tendon, while a major setback in his career and an awful development for sports fans everywhere, has unveiled a giant silver lining. The new Black Mamba is now more transparent, engaging and interactive than he's ever been. In other words, he's everything fans want out of their superstars in today's world.
Bryant is smart enough to realize that he's not just a basketball star, but a one-man corporation. With that in mind, one would be hard-pressed to find any successful company in today's world that doesn't use social media spread its message, whatever it may be. For Bryant, that message is one of inspiring others, demonstrating excellence in every aspect of life and not being as bad of a guy off the floor as his reputation may indicate.
He gets it.
Not only has he followed my unsolicited advice for success on Twitter to the letter, but he's taken it on, Black Mamba-style, and worked to be the best at it. The injury has taken it to a new level and given him fodder to be great at it.
In addition to posting several pictures and pieces of insight related to his torn Achilles via Twitter and Instagram, Bryant poured his heart out on Facebook on April 13 with some candid words that let fans in like never before. In the lengthy rant, he was raw and he was emotional.
He was human.
That's the brilliance of Kobe Bryant. He knows basketball won't last forever, so he's worked diligently on giving some of himself back to those who helped make him what he is today as one of the NBA's living legends. What's more is that he's been sincere about it. That means the world to his admirers and those who follow his career.
Much like he has on the court, Bryant has brilliantly been able to navigate a world he resisted for a long time. It goes to show how his I.Q. extends beyond the bounds of the hardwood and that he's matured a great deal in his 17 years in the NBA.
He'll be back with a vengeance come next season, but for now, we'll all just have to watch him go to work on his smartphone and laptop. It's not a bad consolation under the circumstances.
Michael C. Jones covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA as a Southern California-based sports journalist and editor. He contributes to SB Nation in addition to Yahoo! Sports and is the Managing Editor of Sports Out West.
Catch up with him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets
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