CNBC Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Look at Kobe Bryant’s New Career – Businessman.

CNBC’s Eric Chemi follows basketball legend Kobe Bryant around for the day as he navigated the NACS trade show, met with CEOs of top companies and worked to put his newest brand, sports drink BodyArmor, on the map.

Following are excerpts from the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with basketball legend Kobe Bryant. Clips of the interview will air throughout Business Day programming tomorrow, Friday, October 20. All references must be sourced to CNBC.

Following are articles from CNBC Digital:

Kobe Bryant wants to be No. 1 again, this time in business

Kobe Bryant sounds off on freedom of speech, the NCAA scandal and his biggest money mistake



There’s a time where you stand up and you make a point. And then after that, you know, you go about the business of not having it deter from playing the games. You still have to play a game, right? So I think it’s important to make a statement, you make your statement, you say your piece. And that can continue on in– in a myriad of ways, right? But– but I do think it’s important to respect the values that our– that our country and great nation have been built on which is freedom of speech.


ERIC CHEMI: Obviously you’re wearing one of the new Apple Watches.


ERIC CHEMI: Do you give your thoughts to the company? Do you go to some Apple executive and say, “I don’t like how this works. I don’t like how that works. Fix it. I promise you, other people will believe you.”

KOBE BRYANT: No, I mean Johnny and I have a great relationship. Like, I’ll share some of the things that we’re working on and he’ll give me honest feedback. And I’ll give him honest feedback as well.


ERIC CHEMI: So let’s just talk about kind of business heroes for you. Like, I know you talk to people like the Mark Parkers and Tim Cooks a little.


ERIC CHEMI: Who really speaks to you the most from a mentality point of view?

KOBE BRYANT: Well, I speak to Mark quite often. He’s really been hands on. I’m really asking him a lotta questions about leadership and things of that nature. And I’ve been very, very fortunate to be able to have access to some of these people. And Mark Parker and Johnny Ives. I love Tim Cook. So I’ve been very, very fortunate to be able to pick up the phone and call and ask for advice. The Ed Catmulls of the world. The Bob Igers of the world.


ERIC CHEMI: What’s been your biggest money mistake in life, a lesson you’ve learned?

KOBE BRYANT: It’s always making sure that the money that you have– you don’t– give handouts to people that you’re close with. Right? How do you use the money that you have to help them help themselves, right? That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned, and that’s the biggest lesson I could give to the next gonna of athletes that are coming out. You don’t give handouts. You simply help them help themselves. The money you have, how do you put them in a position to learn, better themselves, and things of that nature.


ERIC CHEMI: Want ask your thoughts on another kind of innovative way of taking on the big guys. Obviously what Lonzo Ball’s dad is doing in L.A. with the independent shoe, trying to take on the big guys. And you see that right there at the Lakers. When you look at that perspective as, here’s a different way of doing business, what are your thoughts on that?

KOBE BRYANT: Well, I mean, my thoughts are execute properly, right? It’s not good enough to have a shoe and launch a shoe. But in that market, in that business, you have to make sure that the product is there. Right? That’s the only way you can challenge the big guys is if the innovation and the quality of the product is there. Then you give yourself a serious fighting chance. So I’m all for that. I’m all for doing things differently. I just think you have to obsess over every single detail about that product. Even beyond before getting into the marketing and the storytelling of it all, you’ve got to get the product right.


We want to see the success of this company. In 2025, we want to be the number one sports drink, right? That means we got to roll up our sleeves and we got to get after it. And we got to make sure that the market – we got to make sure other athletes understand that there’s a better-for-you option out there.


KOBE BRYANT: Elon Musk is I think a genius by all accounts, but his commitment and his word – like I asked him one time about how does he learn. And the amount of research and the amount of study that he does is unheard of, but he’ll always say the most important thing is imagination. So you can learn anything that you want to learn, you can study all these things that you have in a book, but if you don’t have the imagination to then take it to another level, it doesn’t mean anything. And, I think Elon was – I sat down and spoke with Elon for a couple hours. It was really, really a joy.

ERIC CHEMI: So would you buy Tesla stock then?

KOBE BRYANT: I’ll buy into Elon.


ERIC CHEMI: What do you tell people who just say, “You know what? I tried it, I don’t like it. I’m just gonna stick with my Gatorade”?

KOBE BRYANT: Awesome. Have you tried this flavor yet?

MIKE REPOLE: I mean– why? Or– or– or why? Or why? Or why? You know, because it– it’s funny. A lotta times, you know– listen. Gatorade has a little bit of a h– he– healthy halo over it because they see, you know, at the end of the game, at the podium, is Gatorade. And mom’s say– you know, like, they look at the labels and, like, “This doesn’t seem right. But you know what? If it’s on the sidelines of the NFL and it’s on sidelines of NBA, I must be missing something.” But when they really dig deep and they found the difference between BODYARMOR, a premium, better-for-you sport drink, versus Gatorade, it’s not surprising to them. And once they make the switch, and kids love it, it’s– it’s– it’s done.

KOBE BRYANT: It is great for celebrations though.

MIKE REPOLE: Gatorade?


MIKE REPOLE: Yeah. So they dump it.

ERIC CHEMI: Just dump it on the ground–

MIKE REPOLE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ERIC CHEMI: –then it’s fine.

MIKE REPOLE: And that’s gonna be–

KOBE BRYANT: That’s cool when that happens.

MIKE REPOLE: That’s– that’s probably the future. It’s drink BODYARMOR in the– locker room, and dump Gatorade after a victory.

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