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My One on One With Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
CNBC.com
Kobe Bryant

DARREN ROVELL: The last time you probably saw Kobe Bryant, he was hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy for the fourth time. Of course, he was named the finals MVP. You're here to talk about a new venture with Panini, a trading card company based in Italy, but they have the exclusive rights to NBA trading cards starting this season.

Tell me why you got into this.

KOBE BRYANT: It's just a great relationship. We share the same vision and passion for trading cards. As a kid, you know, you collected so many different cards and so forth. They have so much energy and passion they're kind of pumping that new energy into the business. We share that same goal.

DARREN: How do you get that in there because when we were kids, the business was much bigger than it is today. Two, three times as big. How do you energize it? Some people say it starts with an exclusive partner like the NBA has done. We're just giving the rights to one happen. How do you energize the market?

BRYANT: From a business perspective that's the start. You have to create that emotional connection with the youth because there are so many options out there for kids nowadays. You have to create that connection with them, that experience, they want to be a part of something. I think that's how you do it.

DARREN: When you sign your signature each time, is it always the same?

BRYANT: I try to make it the same every single time. You know, and it's kind of like a dance.
You know, you just sit there and sign them away and they make it very easy to sign.
It’s no problem.

DARREN: You're number one in jersey sales in the U.S., in Europe, in China. ESPN Sports Poll actually said you're the second-most popular athlete in America just behind Tiger Woods, and you're at the height of your popularity now. Why?

BRYANT: That's a great question. You know, years ago, about five or six years ago, I got together with my team, and we started our own marketing company, and decided to tweak some things. Go in a different direction a little bit, and a lot of patience and perseverance and working with brilliant people, and here we are.

DARREN:Nike last year, people said it might have been a risky campaign where you have the low cut shows. People were surprised, and it came along with the whole ankle insurance idea. You won a championship and you didn't break an ankle. Are you relieved or are you willing to do the same thing with Nike this season?

BRYANT: What we do with each new shoe is we try to improve upon the design, improve upon the technology and the five will be no different.

DARREN: Let's talk a little about twitter. Ron Artest is a little active, some people might say overactive maybe. Are you ever going to be involved on twitter and what do you think about it?

BRYANT: I don't see myself really twittering too much. If I had something to say, I'd probably just ask Ron to write it for me.

DARREN: I don’t know about that. Are you sure?

BRYANT: It will be fine.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com