Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant had plenty to talk about with tennis phenom Naomi Osaka as the 21-year-old prepares to defend her 2018 U.S. Open title.
The Los Angeles Lakers legend and 18-time All-Star met with Osaka to drill her on everything from developing confidence, maintaining motivation, training, and what she has most in common with the lead character in Granity Studio’s upcoming novel, “Legacy and the Queen.”
Bryant’s youth-sports meets fantasy original media company released its first YA novel, “The Wizenard Series: Training Camp,” earlier this year, which debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times Bestseller List. Premiering on Sept. 3 to time with the U.S. Open, “Legacy and the Queen,” tells the story of a young, black female tennis prodigy who has a magical gift for the game.
Conceived by Bryant, “Legacy” was written by former pro squash player Annie Matthew, with the audio book voiced by Phylicia Rashad.
“I love Legacy’s drive, passion and her fierce mentality, I hope we’re similar in that sense,” Osaka tells Bryant when comparing herself to the fictional character.
Currently the top-ranked player in the world, Osaka said her motivation comes from a liking of success. “I don’t like losing, I don’t think anyone does. At the end of the day, I just want to do the best that I can,” she said.
“A lot of people have a fear of trying to do the best that they can … if they still fail then they have an insecurity about themselves,” Bryant told her. “I admire your courage to try and go out there and do the best you can every single time.”
Osaka learned that even winning can be bittersweet when she was embroiled in Serena Williams’ outburst with umpire Carlos Ramos during the U.S. Open women’s finals last year. The Japanese native beat Williams 6-2, 6-4 but was seen crying as she was presented with her first Grand Slam title.
Granity Studios is a multi-platform entertainment company focused on creating and producing inspiring, youth-oriented sports-meets-fantasy-themed content with a diverse array of characters within the book, television, feature and live theater genres.
Along with “Dear Basketball,” projects have included scripted podcast “The Punies,” the New York Times best-selling book “Mamba Mentality: How I Play,” and the ESPN+ series “Detail.”
Season 2 of “The Punies returns on Aug 31.
The 2019 U.S. Open will air live on ESPN starting Monday, Aug. 26.