Insanely competitive. Obsessively attentive to detail. Capable of shutting out people - even family - at the drop of a hat.

This is the Kobe Bryant that pours off the pages of a new biography about the NBA superstar, Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant.

Having chronicled the lives of legendary coach Phil Jackson and arguably the greatest basketballer in history Michael Jordan, renowned author Roland Lazenby tackles the Los Angeles Lakers superstar who defined the post-Jordan era.

The book is filled with fascinating insights into Bryant's dedication to his craft, his personal and business relationships - including an acrimonious jump from Adidas to Nike - and the sexual assault case which tested him like nothing he'd face on the court.


Here are four of the most interesting snippets.


Having established himself as a talent capable of jumping directly from high school to the NBA, Bryant was already a nationally-recognisable figure at the age of 17.

In an example of how the lives of young American athletes quickly become shaped by a range of influences, Bryant's prom became an opportunity for a sports promotional company he was working with to boost his stardom. "We need to make your prom huge," promoter Michael Harris told the young stud.

Bryant had a girlfriend, Jocelyn, but she was studious and innocent. Harris wanted a high-profile date to create future opportunities and suggested R&B star Monica. But Bryant preferred Brandy.

So after the two young stars were introduced - and their mothers met - they attended the Lower Merion prom at Philadelphia's Bellevue Hotel. People magazine and dozens of other reporters attended and the publicity Harris hoped to generate was achieved.


Bryant was still coming off the bench for the Lakers behind starting shooting guard Eddie Jones in his second season when LA played Michael Jordan's Bulls in Chicago in December, 1997.

The Bulls, who would complete a second three-peat that season, opened up a 16-point halftime lead and cruised to victory but the night would be remembered as Bryant's awakening.

He poured in 33 points in 29 minutes off the bench and was able to go head-to-head with the NBA's best player - who scored 36 points of his own - to show the first real signs he'd be the league's next superstar.

But it was as the players lined up for a Lakers free throw in the fourth quarter Bryant really grabbed MJ's attention, when he asked advice on posting up. "He asked me about my post-up moves, in terms of, 'Do you keep your legs wide? Or do you keep your legs tight?' It was kind of shocking," Jordan said. "I felt like an old guy when he asked me that ... There's no doubt he has the skills to take over a basketball game."


Bryant's return to his hometown of Philadelphia as one of the NBA's biggest names for the 2002 NBA All Star game should have been a celebration. But in reality, it was the opposite.

Whether it was because he'd torched Philly's 76ers in the NBA Finals the previous season - or as Lazenby suggests because of the city's basketball community's views on the Lakers star's estrangement from his family - Bryant was severely booed by the crowd.

After scoring 31 points to claim game MVP honours, Bryant walked backstage and broke down. "I was the first person he saw when they booed him off the stage and he came back in the tunnel," Jackson told Lazenby. "That's when he broke down and started crying. He couldn't understand it ... That got to him. We were literally standing there for five minutes."


Dating back to his days with Jordan in Chicago, legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson famously inspired his players by handing them books to read during the season.

Many players appreciated it as a motivational tool but Jackson's first attempt with Bryant after joining the Lakers couldn't have gone much worse.

"The first book Phil gave him - and this is what f***ed it up for him - Phil gave him the book Black Like Me," journalist Scoop Jackson told Lazenby.

The book recounted the journey of a white journalist, John Howard Griffin, who temporarily darkened his skin to pass as a black man, in the deep south of America in the 19 60s.

"Kobe's like, 'What the f*** is this?' You can do a lot of mind tricks, but that crossed the line because of racial issues. There was no context, no anything, just throw it at him. And if you know Phil, he did it in that Phil arrogance."