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  • Writer's pictureEvan Woods

An Ode to Kobe Bryant

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

Regardless if you’re a fan of basketball, or sports in general, I can guarantee you know Kobe Bryant. Maybe you’re like me and followed his career for decades, or maybe the first time you heard of him was after his tragic death. No matter how familiar you are with Kobe, there’s one thing that everyone knows about him: his insane work ethic - otherwise known as ‘Mamba Mentality’. 


So where did Mamba Mentality come from? Well, it’s a combination of many things. Kobe was known as the Black Mamba for his killer instinct and his razor focus. And while many athletes across all sports may have those same attributes, none could match Kobe’s mentality. The Mamba Mentality.


The legend of Mamba Mentality will be told for decades to come. Kobe was known for his extreme training methods, which have been highlighted in many stories through the years. Blake Griffin once explained to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that there was a rumor that Kobe had gone on a 40 mile bike ride through the Las Vegas desert in the middle of the night during Team USA’s Olympic training camp. Ramona had a great comment on this story, saying, ¹ “This is my favorite part about Kobe: you assume the story is true. Forty Miles in the desert? You don’t even question it.” And of course, the story was later confirmed. Kobe’s trainer, Tim Grover, said the bike ride ended at about 2a.m, “And we were back in the gym at 7:30 in the morning." Could you do that? 


But that’s not the only story that shows Kobe was always willing to sacrifice sleep for greatness. A trainer once recalled that he received a call from Kobe at 4:15 in the morning. ² “Hey uhh Rob, I hope I’m not disturbing anything.” “Uhh no, what’s up Kob?” Kobe went on to say, “Just wondering if you just could help me out with some conditioning work, that’s all.” The trainer agreed, and met Kobe at the gym a little before 5am. When he got there he noticed Kobe was, “Drenched in sweat, as if he’d just taken a swim.” It was obvious that he had already been at it for hours. They worked out together for about 2 hours before parting ways, and the trainer headed back to the hotel while Kobe stayed in the gym. Upon arriving back to the gym around 11 that morning, the trainer walked up to Kobe and said, “Good work this morning ... so when did you finish?” “Finish what?”, Kobe asked rather confused. “Getting your shots up. What time did you leave the facility?” he replied. “Oh just now. I wanted 800 makes so yeah, just now.” He never left - and without pause, Kobe jumped into practice with the team for the rest of the day with no break. He was not a human. 


My final Kobe story is probably my favorite. The year was 2013, and it was game 80 of the regular season. The Lakers were leading the Warriors 117-116 with 42 seconds left in the game. Kobe drove the lane and got fouled on a layup, and came up hobbling and grimacing. It was obvious to everyone in the gym that something was catastrophically wrong. No matter how injured Kobe ever was, he never showed it. As it turns out, he ruptured his achilles tendon - but not even that could get him off the court. Kobe hobbled to the free throw line and knocked down both his shots before the training staff forced him to the locker room. Those free throws closed out the game, and the Lakers won. Kobe later recounted, ³ “When I first did it, right there, I was trying to feel if the tendon is there or if it’s gone. I realized it wasn’t there. I was literally trying to pull the tendon up, so hopefully I could walk and kind of hobble through the last [few] minutes and try to play.” Read that again. He literally tried to pull his achilles up just so he could finish a game that, in the grand scheme of things, didn’t really matter. Insane. 


After 20 years in the purple and gold, Kobe finally decided to move onto the next chapter of his life and retire. He accumulated so many accomplishments that it’s hard to list all of them. ⁴ But just so you can really understand the results of Mamba Mentality, here are some stats for you: 5x NBA champion, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP, 18x NBA All-Star, 2x Olympic Gold medalist, ⁵ 4th on the NBA’s all time scoring list, and a Hall of Famer. These stats alone prove Kobe’s GOAT status, and are why he’s on my personal NBA Mount Rushmore.


When most players retire, they look forward to relaxing by the pool or hitting the links. Not Kobe. He was most looking forward to being a father to his 4 daughters, and being a champion for the advancement and development of women’s basketball worldwide. Unfortunately, on January 26, 2020, the world was rocked by almost unbelievable news.

A helicopter occupied by Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and several family friends crashed into the side of a mountain in Calabasas, killing everyone on board.


When I first heard about I didn’t believe it. As more sources confirmed the accident, I couldn’t breath. One of my childhood idols was taken from this world way before his time. The earth stood still for the next few months and frankly, it still doesn't feel real. It doesn’t matter how much you care about sports, Kobe’s death shook everyone. He was an icon for decades, and to lose him in a freak accident just seems unfair.


The main point I want to make in this article is simple: Kobe isn’t really dead. He’ll never be dead. The Mamba spirit will live forever in our hearts and our minds in everything we do. I want to leave you with this - It doesn’t matter what you are passionate about; as long as you channel the Mamba Mentality, you WILL be successful. This is the legacy of Kobe Bean Bryant.




 

Sources:


¹ David Astramskas. “Storytime: Team USA Trainer Tells a Story about Kobe's Insane Work Ethic.” Ballislife.com, ballislife.com/storytime-team-usa-trainer-kobe/.


² Alonzo Warond. “The Greatest Compilation of Kobe Bryant Stories.” NBA News Rumors Trades Stats Free Agency, 8 Feb. 2017, fadeawayworld.com/2016/11/12/the-greatest-compilation-of-kobe-bryant-stories/.


³ David Murphy. “Timeline of Kobe Bryant's Return from Devastating Achilles Injury.” Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report, 3 Oct. 2017, bleacherreport.com/articles/1856278-timeline-of-kobe-bryants-return-from-devastating-achilles-injury.


⁴ Kobe Bryant Stats. www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/bryanko01.html.


⁵ ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, www.espn.com/nba/history/leaders.





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