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Like Mike, Kobe exhibits incredible will to win

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

May 13
Over the weekend, I had a number of discussions with people I respect, including my son-in-law, former Notre Dame quarterback Thomas Krug. The subject on Mother's Day was the best young player in the NBA today. That's right, we went nose-to-nose talking about all the great young phenoms (and I see why Thomas will be a great lawyer, because he wouldn't budge an inch).

Kobe Bryant
After posting 30 points and 10 rebounds in Game 7 vs. the Kings, Kobe Bryant is ready for the Nets.
Paul Pierce, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett and Allen Iverson are all in the equation as young PTPers (even though Iverson should go to practice every day). But my favorite is Mr. Kobe Bryant, baby! Talk about a guy with a will to win, who makes the big plays at the end of the game. Doesn't he remind you of someone? Not only on the court but also at the news conferences ... close your eyes and listen carefully and you think you're listening to Michael Jordan.

Kobe does all the things that coaches dream of. Look at the way he defended down the stretch against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 on Sunday. Everyone talks about the 10-point lead the Spurs lost in the fourth quarter, but what about the stops by the Los Angeles Lakers' defense?

I know the argument that Kobe has Shaquille O'Neal in the middle to defend and score inside. Yes, he's the best big guy in the game. Shaq can take it to the rack, baby!

But Shaq's got Kobe, too. I talked about that Monday morning on ESPN Radio with two of my favorites, Mike and Mike (Greenberg and Golic). Mr. Golic agreed with me that Kobe is the best big-time player among the young guys. Bryant finds a way to make the key play and never worries about failure.

That's the biggest obstacle for so many people, in the business world or the athletic world. There are too many people out there who don't take chances and make things happen because they fear failure. Certain guys can find a way to get to the winner's circle, while other greats fall just short despite individual stardom.

I often discuss this topic when I give my motivational talks via the Washington Speakers Bureau. Speaking to marketing groups and sales people, we discuss closing the deal, the ability to finish it off. So many people can initiate a deal, but then they can't find a way to close it. It's the same way in sports. Some can get their teams the lead until the four-minute mark, but then in crunch time -- what I often call "winning time" -- they can't get it done.

Guys like Jordan, Derek Jeter and Bryant find a way to get the job done in winning time, in memorable fashion. Of the young stars in the NBA, give me Kobe, baby!

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