The Los Angeles Dodgers winning the World Series last year was touted as a championship not only for the organization and its current and former players, and the city as a whole, but one that many believed Clayton Kershaw was so deserving of.
Selected by the Dodgers with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, Kershaw has been part of the organization’s greatest success and failures. His struggles in the postseason became magnified and criticism of the left-hander grew louder with each passing year.
Kershaw put that doubt to rest last October as he played a key role in the Dodgers ending their World Series drought. Not one to stop and reflect on accomplishments in the moment, the 32-year-old has allowed himself to be a bit more retrospective this offseason.
Part of that entailed Kershaw revealing how a quote from late L.A. Lakers legend Kobe Bryant about the process of winning helped serve as motivation, via SportsNet LA:
“I think the one thing I can say, now looking back on everything, is that there were times I was like, ‘Is this really worth it? To go through all this again, to be a part of it, to sit there, answer questions about why you haven’t succeeded or why hasn’t it worked out for you guys? Why haven’t you been able to succeed personally?’ All these different things. I think the answer is a Kobe quote, just like, the journey is even greater than the end goal.
“Being able to say you’ve been on this journey for so long, been able to put in the hours, the work and all the things you’ve done on a day-to-day basis, to get to see it actually culminate in a win makes it that much sweeter. Yeah, it would be sweet no matter what, if it was your first year in the big leagues, your 12th or whatever it may be. To be able to have some of the baggage I have and my teammates have, and be able to actually say that we won, I wouldn’t trade it. I wouldn’t change it. I really wouldn’t. I’m just thankful it’s been part of my journey.”
The words Kershaw referenced are ones Bryant shared for his daughters during his jersey retirement ceremony at Staples Center. “You guys know that if you do the work, you work hard enough, dreams come true. You know that, we all know that,” he began.
“But hopefully what you get from tonight is that those times when you get up early and you work hard, those times when you stay up late and you work hard, those times when don’t feel like working — you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself — but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream. That’s the dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.
“And if you guys can understand that, what you’ll see happen is that you won’t accomplish your dreams. Your dreams won’t come true, something greater will (points to retired jerseys in the rafters). And if you guys can understand that, then I’m doing my job as a father.”
Roberts mentioned Kobe in Dodgers’ first team meeting
When the Dodgers gathered for the start of Spring Training last year, it was a mere three weeks removed from the sports world being rocked by the tragic accident that claimed the lives of Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others who were on the helicopter with them.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also cited Bryant’s quote about embracing the journey in pursuit of a championship during the first team meeting of camp.
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