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Psychology Research...Unraveled


P.I.E. Blog


Does Kobe Bryant Have a Personality Disorder?

Posted on April 22, 2013 at 10:56 PM
If you are a pro basketball fan, then you know that the NBA Playoffs started on Saturday, April 20th. If you followed the Los Angeles Lakers this season, then you know that Kobe Bryant is out with a tear of his Achilles tendon.

In an effort to continue to support or harass (depending on how you look at it) his teammates, Bryant took to Twitter yesterday during Game 1 of the Lakers series with the San Antonio Spurs.

Bryant's tweets included the following pieces of "insight:"

It looks like his coach, Mike D'Antoni, wasn't impressed with Bryant's newly developed electronic coaching system. During the after game press conference, D'Antoni attempted to explain the Lakers 91-79 loss only to be met with questions about Bryant's tweets. His response (with eyes a'rollin):  "It's great to have that commentary. He's a fan right now. You guys put a little bit more importance on that kind of fan. But he's a fan. He wants to be part of it, so that's good."

Even though D'Antoni said, "it's great," it's clearly not. From the sarcastic tone and body language to his facial expression and eye roll, everything about the situation indicated that this was just another instance of Bryant's inability to stay in his lane.

When a psychologist looks at Bryant's pattern of behavior and considers what other coaches and teammates have said about working with him, it is hard not to label him as a Type A personality.

Type A personality is not considered a personality disorder or any other mental disorder. Rather, it is a unique set of personality characteristics that has been found in a lot of people, particularly very successful people. 

Type A personalities have three over-arching characteristics. They are highly competitive, impatient and hostile.


Highly Competitive
Like other basketball greats, Bryant wants to be the best and strives to live up to that expectation. Clearly he enjoys the challenge of competition, even when he is competing against himself. His perfectionistic tendencies drive him to "do it until it's right." From the standpoint of work ethic, he's any coach's dream.

Unfortunately, not everybody is driven the same way. Type A personalities tend to think that the only way that you can be successful is to have a perfectionistic attitude and get quite annoyed with others who don't respond to challenges in similar ways as they. This was evident in his relationship with Dwight Howard for the majority of the 2012-2013 basketball season. 

When you are a leader, you are expected to meet your followers where they are and help them get to higher plains. Some people respond well to being pushed to frustration. Others don't. A team leader should have enough interpersonal intelligence to know what techniques work with whom and use the appropriate techniques to bring out the best in others. Bryant only knows one way to be successful. 

Type A personalities want what they want and now. They tend to get snappy with others when things are too long, even when those things are out of anyone's control. This may not always been helpful when leading a team.

Sure, you want your team to get it and get it now; after all, you have a goal in mind. However, being impatient doesn't move things long any faster. In fact, sometimes a Type A personality's  impatience facilitates an unconscious rebellion in others that makes them move slower.

You don't often see Type A personalities lose control like you would if you were watching Latrell Sprewell or Rasheed Wallace; they have too much self control for that. However, they are just as hostile. They are typically passive aggressive. In other words, they make aggressive remarks and engage in aggressive behaviors in very passive ways.

If you want to see a Type A personality get passive aggressive, just make them fail at something. Anything. It doesn't take long for them to get irritated and anger follows very shortly after irritation. Psychologists would call this low frustration tolerance. Some people can actually tolerate ambiguity and frustration without getting irritated for extended periods of time, but not Type A personalities.


If you want a winning team, whether it's planning a fashion show or winning a basketball tournament, you want to Type A personality on your team because they will give 100% and won't stop until the job is done. However, if you are interested in team cohesion and a sense of oneness on your team, won't be able to achieve that with a Type A personality on the team. They typically don't play well in the sandbox with others and don't have many friends.

You have to admire Bryant's passion. But it's clear that Bryant, like other Type A personalities, can't sit back and let someone else do his job (like the coach) because they tend to think that they could do it better. It's obvious that D'Antoni was annoyed with the question and the behavior that precipitated the question. If this wasn't evident in his body language, it was certainly evident in his reference to Kobe Bryant, a paid employee of the Lakers since 1996, as "a fan." 

And, it true songbird fashion, Bryant responded, 

Despite his hard coaching work yesterday, Bryant seemed to get the hint that he may have distracted his team, not supported them and tweeted,

Psychology IEverywhere!

Categories: Sports