Kobe Bryant asked for leadership advice from John Williams, and this was the composer’s beautiful answer

21 January 2021, 16:17

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant asked for leadership advice from film maestro John Williams
Basketball legend Kobe Bryant asked for leadership advice from film maestro John Williams. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Remembering the time film music maestro, John Williams, gave some beautiful advice on leadership to the late basketball great, Kobe Bryant.

John Williams is one of today’s musical treasures, and the brains behind some of the film soundtracks closest to our hearts. From the triumphant, brassy fanfare that cues the Star Wars titles to the heart-wrenching violin solo scoring Schindler’s List, Williams’ contribution to movie music is truly peerless.

The late basketball great, Kobe Bryant, knew all of this. He also had a rather wonderful habit of calling up stars of other industries, in the search for guidance he could apply to his own line of work.

So, wanting some advice on leadership, Bryant called on his fellow American to find out how he juggles an orchestra.

Bryant said he wanted to learn how Williams keeps all the moving pieces of a musical work together. “If you think about it,” he said, “[Conducting an orchestra is] such a difficult thing to do – there are so many instruments and all these different sections, from the woodwinds to the percussion to the horns and all sorts of stuff.”

Listen to his story in the tweet below...

Read more: Kobe Bryant’s basketball short scored by John Williams is beautifully poignant >

“And he has to lead all of those sections, all of those people, to create one harmonious sound. So, how do you do that?

“I sat down with him for a bit and picked his brain about it because I felt like there were a lot of similarities between what he does and what I have to do on the basketball court.”

And here’s what Williams told him.

“He said,” Bryant quotes Williams as saying, “‘Kobe, if I hear something is off, I can just interject and give them the answer. But I’ve found it’s better to ask them questions, because most of the time, the answer I’ll get back will be a better answer than the one I had.’”

Read more: John Williams admits his Star Wars opening music was ‘a little overwritten’ >

44th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to John Williams
44th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to John Williams. Picture: Getty

After taking the music maestro’s advice, Bryant said that over the next two seasons, the Los Angeles Larkers won back-to-back championships.

“That really helped me from a leadership standpoint and how I handled the guys on my team going forward,” he said. “This was coming off of our loss to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals.

“But I showed up to training camp for the 2008-09 season and changed my approach to leadership, just based on the way that John Williams conducts his orchestra.”

And here’s Bryant’s rather unexpected mentor in action, conducting the great Vienna Philharmonic in a masterful performance of his ‘Imperial March’...

John Williams conducts the Vienna Philharmonic in the 'Imperial March'