Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality Lives On (2024)

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On January 27th 2020, I had to get up extra early for my usual Monday morning basketball practice with my university team. Normally, everyone was busy shaking off the drowsiness, but our spirit on the court was usually high, as that practice, in the quiet of dark campus before any lectures started, was ours to enjoy and get better. That day though, it felt as if the death of Kobe Bryant sucked the air out of the gym. No one was warming up, barely any balls were bouncing, everyone of my teammates was in a state of stupor, aimlessly looking around as if they forgot what we were there for. Some were close to fighting off tears while others questioned whether we should call off the practice entirely.

But it didn’t take long to realize that the only way was to move forward, to keep going and play the game we loved while trying to process the loss of a man none of us had even ever met, but felt so close to. A man we thought to be invincible.

Who was Kobe Bryant ?

Kobe Bryant played 20 years in the NBA, with the Los Angeles Lakers. During these two decades, he went from being a 17-year-old phenom to five-time champion, Nike signature athlete, League MVP in 2008, and retired in 2016 as aHall of Famer. One of the greatest and most iconic global athletes of all time, he was only just beginning the second chapter of his life, a prolific period that was tragically cut short when a helicopter carrying Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others crashed in Calabasas, killing everyone on board.

While we briefly got to know what his post-basketball career would mean to the world, Kobe’s legacy as an athlete is undoubtedly leaving a lasting impact. Beyond his on-court skills, he is and will be remembered for having one of the greatest work ethics and most brilliant minds the sport world has ever witnessed. A borderline obsession to be the best in every aspect of the game that pushed his mind and body to the limit others wouldn’t dare to venture.

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Kobe was unlike any other. The almost cannibalistic fury with which he ate everything: the court, opponents, teammates, coaches, the audience, the ball. Whatever stood between him and his goal would be overwhelmed: the obsession with victory, the pursuit of perfection, that grin, the Mamba, the agonism that was aggression in full force, the ontological impossibility of defeat. "Leadership is loneliness," he said in an interview, and that is how he lived, above everything and everyone, irreducible, thinking only of victories and posterity, temporarily together with teammates and fans, ultimately alone.

Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality Lives On (1)

Highsnobiety / Neil Bradford

Of course, when it comes to being labeled a smart competitor, one of the go-to examples is the fact that Bryant spoke three languages fluently and learned others purely in the interest of talking trash to opponents, getting into their heads and winning the mental battle even before the physical one began.

Kobe lived in Italy for seven years during his childhood as his father was a pro-basketball player there. That’s where he first learned how to play the game and speak Italian, so for me, being Italian, seeing Kobe speak my language so effortlessly and talk to the media about his fond memories of growing up in Italy always gave me a sense of pride and joy.

But learning languages isn’t what made the cerebral, almost philosophical thinker Bryant was. For instance, when talking about shooting, he would reference Mozart. He waxed poetic about the beauty of a post-surgery scar on his Achilles tendon, comparing it to another legendary composer’s iconic ailment, Beethoven. He thought about the game in terms of science, turning to revolutionary new procedures to fix injuries and studying angles over pure athletics.

Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality Lives On (2)

Getty Images / Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG

What is Kobe Bryant's Mamba Mentality ?

This mindset, his mindset, is called “Mamba Mentality,” a distillation of his focus that explained what everyone wanted to know: how he was able to accomplish so much, endure all the sacrifices, and remain so focused on being great at basketball. “I liked challenging people and making them uncomfortable,” he wrote in his 2018 book Mamba Mentality. “That’s what leads to introspection and that’s what leads to improvement. You could say I dared people to be their best selves.” Today, three years after his death, there are countless anecdotes about Kobe’s mentality, training methods and focus. The “Mamba Mentality” is a great way to gather all his practices in one single mantra.

The “Mamba Mentality” is for all, its main pillars are achievable to some degree or another. And despite the different roads or interests we may have in life, the guiding inspiration and focus on passion, obsession, relentlessness, resiliency, and fearlessness, are something we can and should all strive for.

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Kobe Bryant’s Legacy

After Kobe Bryant retired, his focus pivoted to other interests – namely, making up for lost time with his family and daughters – as well as becoming an investor, writer, and storyteller. He won an Academy Award for Dear Basketball, an animated short film he wrote about his love of the game that defined his life up until that point. He also mentored younger basketball players, like Celtics guard Jayson Tatum, Nets star Kyrie Irving, and even LeBron James.

To me, his most interesting venture was founding the Granity Studios; a media production company created to work on a number of different projects, including books, films, and podcasts, with a focus on sports, storytelling and inspirational stories for teenagers. A passion for storytelling he shared with us in 2015, as he featured on our very own cover of Highsnobiety's 10th-anniversary print issue. “I’ve been very lucky [that I] started playing the game at six. First passions are easy,” Bryant told reporter Alec Banks. “I love telling stories that move and inspire people.”

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Bryant was not liked by everyone, by those who resent the idea that individual will can be a self-sufficient source of progress. That it can even unhinge the rule of the natural order of things. A team game is, after all, a plural mission. So those who see evolution always, and only, as the product of the collective could have admiration for Bryant the player but couldn’t fully accept the validity of Bryant as one to draw universal maxims of life. Simply put, collectivists and the purists of selfless basketball, could not hang around the Mamba.

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Kobe Bryant's death served asa direct message addressed to each of us. For fans around the world, the tragic end not so much of a young man, an athlete, a rock star, but what we thought to be an immortal, and somewhat invincible being, forces us to reckon with this earthly affair we are all in, and that as an incipit and epilogue.

While the days of early practices on a Monday morning are long gone, the universal language of basketball and the memory and legacy of Kobe lives in everyone I meet even remotely connected to the game. Whether it is in music, basketball, popular culture or through the countless testimonies from creatives and cultural pioneers, his memory, mindset and inspiration live on.

They do so, because ultimately, Kobe's identity was shaped within his art; his art was in movement, improvisation, technique, the body and the mind as the only instruments. Kobe left us baskets, feats, games, the Mamba Mentality. They all stand there, in the great heritage of popular culture, forever. Kobe did not die a basketball player, he died a poet, he died a legend. His legacy, though, lives on in our culture.

Find more about Kobe Bryant and our 10th print issue, or discover the best Kobe Bryant's Hip-Hop references. Or check out the latest on the NBA fashion evolution, or the best outdoor basketball courts, and who are the new stylish NBA players right now.

Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality Lives On (2024)


Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality Lives On? ›

“Mamba mentality is about 4 a.m. workouts, doing more than the next guy, and then trusting in the work you've put in when it's time to perform.” Bryant's insane work ethic was legendary. He was always looking for ways to optimize his training routines and squeeze the maximum out of every day.

What was Kobe's mindset? ›

“You have to enter every activity, every single time, with a want and need to do it to the best of your ability,” Bryant wrote in his memoir. “The mindset isn't about seeking a result. It's more about the process of getting to that result. It's about the journey and the approach.

Where did Kobe get Mamba mentality from? ›

"I came up with it during one of our tours. Because I put the kids through so many drills and clinics, and I just thought to myself, 'Mamba Mentality. ' I actually said it,” Bryant said in his Mamba Mentality Tour in 2016 via ET Online.

What is the Mamba mentality culture? ›

The Mamba Mentality encompasses a mindset that doesn't focus solely on achieving a goal. Instead, it looks at the whole process of getting there – the journey – to the extent that it becomes, as Kobe himself said, “a way of life.”

What are the pillars of Mamba mentality? ›

Whether playing a sport or working a job, you should always strive to do and be the best. Kobe had five pillars to channeling your inner Mamba mentality – fearlessness, relentlessness, passion, obsessiveness, and resilience.

How to live the mamba mentality? ›

Hard Work. “Hard work outweighs talent — every time,” Bryant famously said. “Mamba mentality is about 4 a.m. workouts, doing more than the next guy, and then trusting in the work you've put in when it's time to perform.” Bryant's insane work ethic was legendary.

How to get Mamba Mentality in real life? ›

Maintain a commitment to hard work and excellence.

Kobe had a laser-like focus on his commitment to excellence. His work ethic was unmatched by his peers and he refused to be complacent in his career. “Without studying, preparation, and practice, you're leaving the outcome to fate. I don't do fate,” said Kobe.

Why is Kobe called mamba? ›

That's when he introduced the idea of an alter ego and 'Black Mamba' was born. Inspired by the code name of an assassin in the cult favorite film, Kill Bill by Quentin Tarantino, Bryant sought to not only reinvent himself but create a means of deflecting the intense backlash that he had begun to face.

Who has the Mamba mentality? ›

The Mamba Mentality: How I Play is the autobiographical book of NBA player Kobe Bryant, where he provides personal insights on his life and basketball career. The book was published by Macmillian Publishers on October 28, 2018, with photography and an afterword by sports photographer Andrew D. Bernstein.

What is a mamba personality? ›

"The Mamba Mentality simply means trying to be the best version of yourself. That's what the mentality means. Everyday you're trying to become better." -... | By FitOps FoundationFacebook.

Who was Kobe Bryant inspired by? ›

The NFL Hall of Famer connected the dots between Bryant being someone who idolized Michael Jordan, then emulated him and had the gall to believe he could surpass the legend almost universally recognized as the greatest NBA player ever.

Why did Kobe say Mamba Mentality? ›

Bryant further explained the mentality during an interview with Amazon Book Review in 2018. “Mamba mentality is all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most,” he said. “It's the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit.

What is Kobe Bryant's phobia? ›

Kobe Bryant was not someone who would flinch at even the most threatening of opponents, yet he did have one fear although it wasn't basketball-related. Speaking to ESPN's Dave McMenamin, the Black Mamba didn't want to mess with a particular species, and it was bees.

What was Kobe Bryant passionate about? ›

Kobe wanted more out of life than just basketball – he was creating art, assisting the homeless, and helping young people succeed both on and off the court. On January 26, all that was cut short during the tragic helicopter crash that took his life and eight others, including his daughter Gianna.

What were Kobe Bryant's thoughts? ›

A lot of people say they want to be great, but they're not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve greatness. From the beginning, I wanted to be the best. I had a constant craving, a yearning, to improve and be the best. I never needed any external forces to motivate me.

What did Kobe Bryant believe? ›

Kobe Bryant was a practicing Catholic who emphasized the importance of faith in a myriad of ways. This article shows how religion had a transformative impact on his life, including the influence of Catholic social teachings on Bryant's outlook and motivation during and after his playing days.

What is details the mind of Kobe Bryant? ›

Kobe Bryant produced a 15-episode run of DETAIL, a series focused on in-depth game analysis throughout the NBA Playoffs. In the series, Kobe assumed the identity of a player and broke down the game from their perspective.

How did Kobe Bryant train his mind? ›

Another key aspect of Kobe's career as a player and after he retired was harnessing the power of meditation to focus his mind. Like exercising the body, Kobe found that exercising his mind made it a lot easier to center his attention when needed, which turned him into a better player and teammate.


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