NBA superstar Kobe Bryant is somewhat familiar with losing a championship since the Los Angeles Laker has won five of the seven NBA Finals that he’s appeared in, so he contacted former UFC bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey (pictured) after her upset knockout loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193 to offer up some words of encouragement.
“I sent her [Rousey] several messages,” Bryant told USA Today during the All-Star weekend. “That’s what it’s about. It’s not about how you win. A true champion is about how you lose and come back from that.
“I told her, ‘It’s a beautiful thing.’ That’s what I told her. I said, ‘To be a true champion sometimes you have to get knocked down.’ It happens to the best of us. It happened with my Achilles [when I tore it], [Muhammad] Ali got put down several times — it happens to the best of us.”
After winning three straight NBA titles from 2000-2002, Bryant and his Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons for the crown in 2004. While Bryant remained one of the NBA’s top players, he wasn’t able to lead his Lakers back to the Finals until losing to the Boston Celtics in 2008.
The following year, the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic to take the trophy and parlayed it to back-to-back titles the following season by avenging their loss to the Celtics. Bryant was named Finals MVP in both runs.
Bryant believes his losses to the Pistons and Celtics made him stronger. Now it’s up to Rousey to do the same.
“If she goes through her entire career undefeated, she becomes this mythical figure that nobody can relate to. She got beat. We all get beat at some point or another in our lives,” Bryant said. “Now it’s a matter of how she bounces back from that. I think that’s what makes her a true champion.”
Bryant did not say if or how Rousey responded when he reached out to her. Rousey admitted to being deeply depressed for weeks after Holm annihilated her en route to evaporating her aura of invincibility.
Rousey recently returned to training and is planning on coming back to reclaim her crown before year’s end.