- Kobe Bryant discussed several news topics, including the controversy over kneeling protests
- National anthem, college basketball bribery scandal, and the Ball family
Basketball legend Kobe Bryant wasn't shy about letting his opinions fly on the basketball court. In his new career as a businessman, investor and entrepreneur, he's showing the world that he still holds strong beliefs and wants to speak his mind.
The world of sports has been tied up in major national issues over the past few weeks, including a controversy over NFL players kneeling for the national anthem to bring attention to social justice issues. Even President Donald Trump has weighed in on the issue, calling for the NFL to bench or even fire players who don't stand through the anthem.
"I think there's a time where you stand up and you make your point, and then after that you go about the business of not having it deter from playing the games," Bryant told CNBC this week. "You still have to play a game, right?"
He noted that "it's important to make a statement" and that it can continue in many different ways. "It's important to respect the value our country and great nation have been built on, which is freedom of speech."
Another sports business story making headlines is the government's investigation and arrests related to bribery in NCAA basketball programs.
"Whether it's a few bad guys or more, it's not OK, either way you look at it," Bryant said. "I think we have to do a better job in figuring out how we protect youth sports across the board. Because that also feeds into their development, not as athletes but also as people."
One family man who's taken his own approach outside the typical youth basketball routes has been LaVar Ball, founder of the "Big Baller Brand," which sells $500 shoes named for his son and Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. The Balls' shoe and apparel business competes against giants like Adidas and Bryant's own endorser, Nike.
"I'm all for doing thing differently," Bryant said. "I just think you have to obsess over every single detail about that product...Before getting into the marketing and the storytelling of it all, you have to get the product right."
Bryant is known for having been heavily involved with the design and details of his own Nike shoes.
That's how you challenge the big guys, with innovation and high-quality product, he said. "Then you give yourself a serious fighting chance."
Bryant also opened up about his biggest money mistake in life and gave a bit of advice for rising stars who are coming into their first big paychecks.
"You don't give handouts to the people you're close with," Bryant said. He instead advised other people who want to help friends and family to use their own money to put people "in a position to learn and better themselves."
"That's the biggest lesson I've learned, and that's the biggest lesson I could give to the next generation of athletes coming out."