Kobe Bryant explains trademarking phrase 'Friends Hang Sometimes Banners Hang Forever'

Pursuing lofty goals can mean "sacrificing some relationships now and then in order to accomplish something," Kobe Bryant said in explaining his trademark phrase. Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports

SALT LAKE CITY -- Kobe Bryant's company has trademarked the phrase “Friends Hang Sometimes Banners Hang Forever,” but the Los Angeles Lakers star believes it’s important to understand the context of those words, which gained attention when he used them during an interview with ESPN’s Jemele Hill in June.

“To look at it from a superficial standpoint, I don’t think that’s the right approach. I think you have to understand the significance of that and the depth of what that actually means,” Bryant said Saturday before the Lakers faced the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. “It’s not saying that you don’t value friendships. That’s not what that means, at least to me.

“It means when you have a purpose, [when] you have something that you’re striving for, sometimes you have to make hard decisions, you have to make hard choices. And that means sacrificing some relationships now and then in order to accomplish something.

“It becomes very hard. I’ve talked to young players and athletes all the time who struggle with the balance of high school friendships and relationships with playing football, baseball, basketball and how to balance the two. They wind up becoming distractions. And they wind up having regrets when they get older because they really didn’t focus on what they were trying to do. And now their friends have all gone to different colleges and they rarely speak.

“So, for me, really, the nature of that statement is being able to go after what you believe your true purpose is to be and understanding that when you have friends, they’ll understand that. And you’ll never lose those relationships. I have friends that I still talk to this day that I’ve been friends with since I was 14 years old.”