Kobe Bryant was presumably trying to help out his pal Alex Rodriguez -- first by giving him a pep talk, and then by relaying the nature of the conversation to reporters.

In the process, though, he did something much bigger: he defined the difference between athletes like himself and athletes like A-Rod in one beautiful quote:

"We're different. But you're talking about, 'He's one of the best to ever play.' I think really the difference is, sometimes he forgets he's the best. ... Where, I don't."

Perfect. There could not be a better way to describe the two men, and how it relates to their performance when it counts the most. When Bryant has missed four consecutive shots, he still expects the fifth to go in -- as does everyone who is watching. When A-Rod has struck out four consecutive times, he expects to strike out a fifth time -- as does everyone who is watching.

Where does the confidence of one and the doubt of another come from? Only they know. But that is the difference. And now that A-Rod has lost it, we're not sure he will ever reclaim it.

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