During an interview with Jimmy Kimmel exactly one year ago today, Kobe Bryant talked about the influence that Michael Jackson had on him. According to Kobe, the other MJ used to talk to him about how he studied great musicians in order to propel himself to the heights that he eventually reached. Kobe told Kimmel that the King of Pop’s approach really resonated with him and showed him what he would need to do to be considered one of the best basketball players of all time. You can rewatch that Kimmel interview here:

Tonight, an interview that Andrea Kramer did with Kobe for HBO’s Real Sports will air, and once again, it will feature Kobe talking about the role Michael Jackson played in his career. Kobe remembers getting a call from MJ way back in 1998. Kobe says he was catching a lot of flack for being, well, Kobe at the time, and MJ told him not to stop. In fact, he told him to keep doing exactly what he was doing.

“Gold’s Gym in ’98,” Kobe tells Kramer. “Lifting weights and I get a phone call and it’s Michael Jackson on the other line. And [I'm] kinda, ‘What the hell is going on?’ Somebody’s playing a practical joke…He’s a big basketball fan. I was starting to get flack for being an introvert and being so serious all the time about the game. And he wanted to call and give me encouragement and say, ‘Don’t change for them. You have to stay focused. If you wanna be one of the all-time greats, you have to study the all-time greats. You have to be obsessive about what you do and how you do it.’ And in the summertime, I would just disappear. I’d be studying, I’d be researching, I’d be figuring out a way.”

You can watch a trailer for Kobe's Real Sports interview here:

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

[via For The Win]