In new book with Kobe Bryant, Andy Bernstein captures the essence of the Mamba

first_img How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Much of this analysis was news to Bernstein, who didn’t know at the time that Bryant was studying his work.Related Articles LOS ANGELES — In the days before you could share photos with a few taps on your phone, Andy Bernstein needed to get a photo to Kobe Bryant.He knew it was significant as soon as he looked at the print: an image taken from the catwalk at the top of the arena of Bryant, then a rising superstar, leaping on a breakaway dunk with his arm outstreched and his feet curled up behind him against the backdrop of a golden Lakers court at the Great Western Forum.Bernstein made a second print, 30 by 50 inches as he remembers it, barely angled it into his car and drove it to Pacific Palisades, where Bryant, still a precocious teenager, was living with his parents.“It was a process,” he said. “But I thought it would mean a lot to him.”center_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersMaybe it meant more than he knew – Bernstein went on to cover the entirety of Bryant’s 20-year career with the Lakers and capture many more memorable shots. His collection now provides half of the creative fuel behind “Mamba Mentality: How I Play,” a book written by Bryant and fleshed out by Bernstein’s photographs.Bernstein has previously done a book with Phil Jackson, “Journey to the Ring,” about the 2009-2010 season. But the scope of his project with Bryant sent Bernstein scouring both digital records and old files to find telling photos of the Black Mamba’s career.He watched Bryant start from a dynamic teenage dunker to one of the most polished jump shooters to ever play the game. In the process, Bernstein learned to anticipate Bryant better than any defender could – using equipment that shoots a photo every few seconds instead of the rapid-fire shots of the digital era, Bernstein had to gain an intuition for when Bryant would spin, juke, step back or cross over.“Of course you get burned now and then,” he laughs, “but I got to know his game pretty well over the years.”There are parts of the book that reflect how deeply Bryant scrutinized the photos of Bernstein, who was honored earlier this year for his career by the Basketball Hall of Fame. In one sequence, Bryant analyzes his posture in a picture Bernstein shot of him guarding Michael Jordan, then writes: “Thankfully, I actually saw this photo back in 1998. After studying it, I corrected my posture and balance.” “I knew that he had some of my photos of other greats that he idolized,” said Bernstein, who also shot the “Showtime” Lakers and the 1992 Dream Team among other high-profile subjects. “I didn’t know he used them as a learning tool to break down his own game.”Bryant’s appearance at Staples Center on Thursday night was in part to promote the book. Bernstein, as he always is at Lakers home games, was at work.“I knew Kobe was always dedicated and obsessed with his craft, and I think we had a meeting of the minds in that way,” Bernstein said. “He has this saying, ‘If you’re not obsessed with what you do, we don’t speak the same language.’ I think that’s how we came to respect each other.” Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers last_img

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