Kobe Bryant preaches mental toughness in Nike ad filmed in China

A few hours ago, you were likely sound asleep.

And in Kobe Bryant’s eyes, that’s a problem. See, if Bryant had his druthers, he’d require his teammates to wake up at 4 a.m. to begin practice for one simple reason.

“I think being up at 4 a.m. adds to the mental toughness,” said Bryant. “You start thinking, ‘Ah, maybe this morning I don’t have to. I’ll just roll over and go to sleep. I can shut the alarm off.’ That’s really challenging you mentally to really have to get up and perform. So that’s why I do it.”

He’s done it for a recent Nike ad aired in China where he hosted the Kobe Bryant Nike Basketball Tour, China 2013. Bryant’s done it during the past four months as he’s rehabbed his torn left Achilles in hopes of returning to the court as quickly as possible. He’s done it on ordinary days in the middle of the NBA season.

As he makes it clear in the Nike ad, Bryant’s not waking up early just for the sake of doing so. He offers harsh criticism toward his players in China about their cutting, turnovers and energy. Bryant believes those early morning workouts will make it harder to have the energy needed to execute well, thus enhancing the player’s focus to compensate.

“The important thing to remember is it’s not about how much you practice per se,” Bryant said, “but how much your mind is present during practicing.”

And for Bryant, those start at 4 a.m.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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