Why Michael Phelps turns to Kobe Bryant for business advice

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Presenters Michael Phelps and Kobe Bryant announce the winner of Female Athlete of the Year during the 2017 USA Swimming Golden Goggle Awards at J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live on November 19, 2017, in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

Michael Phelps and Kobe Bryant may have excelled at different sports, but they have a lot more in common than being two of the world's greatest athletes.

The two both retired in 2016 on a high note: Phelps, a 28-time Olympic championwon gold in the final race of his career at the Rio Olympics, and Bryant, a two-time Olympic champion and five-time NBA championscored 60 points in his last ever pro basketball game.

Today, Phelps looks to the retired Lakers star for advice on building a brand after retiring as an athlete. "Kobe is somebody who's been super fun to kind of pick his brain a little bit about some things," Phelps said in a recent sit-down interview with The Wall Street Journal.

"We've had the privilege and the opportunity in our sports to be successful or reach that pinnacle, and we know what it takes to get to that top level," Phelps says. "So now it's always the challenge, I think, for the athletes to find that drive outside of the sport; it's a fun process and a new process."

Michael Phelps kisses his gold medal after the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final at the London 2012 Olympic Games, July 31, 2012.
Christophe Simon | AFP | Getty Images

Since retiring in 2016, Phelps has gone on to work on water conservation initiatives as a global ambassador for Colgate's Save Water campaign. He's also teamed up with Talkspace Online Therapy to be a vocal advocate for mental health awareness, a cause that's personal to Phelps, who's spoken publicly about struggling with depression. He also runs his own competitive swimwear line, MP.

Bryant's focus has been more on entertainment and investments. He's the co-founder of venture capital firm Bryant Stibel and continues to grow his production company, Granity Studios.

The two world champions, who have formed a bond over the years, are also fans of each others' athletic achievements. Bryant first watched Phelps compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After cheering him on, Bryant said, "He was unbelievable, one of the most phenomenal athletes I'd ever seen."

While presenting the female athlete of the year award at the 2017 USA Swimming's Golden Goggles Awards alongside Phelps, Bryant even egged him on to make an Olympic comeback. But not even Bryant could convince Phelps to dive back in. The legendary swimmer is continuing to push to achieve something a little more outside his lane.

"It just goes back to really what my goals and what my dreams are about, what I want to do with myself, and my life, and my brand," Phelps told the Journal.

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