It’s 8/24, which means it’s Mamba day. The phrase “Mamba Mentality” was born from the black mamba himself, the great Kobe Bryant. “Mamba mentality is all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most,” he told Amazon Book Review in an interview. “It’s the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit. It started just as a hashtag that came to me one day, and it’s grown into something athletes — and even non-athletes — embrace as a mindset.”
Kobe consistently showed it not just in his basketball career, but all throughout life. Here is the moments that perfectly described his Mamba Mentality.
Young Kobe Airballs In The 1997 Playoffs
Throughout Kobe’s career, he was money in the clutch. But it was a struggle at the beginning for young Kobe. 18 year old rookie in his 1st playoffs, Kobe and the Lakers were down 3-1 in the WCSF against the Utah Jazz. With the Lakers season in the balance, Kobe airballed not only what would of been the game winning, but he also airballed 3 more times in overtime which caused his Lakers season to end.
Tough way for his rookie year to end, but Kobe admitted that moment humbled him and was a turning point for his career. “It was an early turning point for me in being able to deal with adversity, deal with public scrutiny and self-doubt,” Bryant recalled. “At 18 years old, it was gut-check time.” When the Lakers landed back in LA, Bryant went to a local high school gym and worked on his shot “until the sun came up.”
When dealing with Mamba Mentality, losses turn into lessons.
Kobe Carries Lakers In Game 4 of 2000 NBA Finals
It’s overtime and the Lakers are up by 1 against the Pacers with 2 mins left when the league MVP Shaquille O’Neal is fouled out. The Pacers crowd is going crazy and the Lakers unstoppable force is done for the rest of the game.
Kobe told Shaq, “Don’t worry, I got this.”
Kobe finishes with 28 points, including six straight points to close out Game 4 after Shaq gets fouled out. It was heroic. Teammate Derek Fisher compared the performance to “those old NBA classic films, Magic and Kareem and others just taking over games in the Finals.”
“This is the game I’ve been dreaming about, to be honest with you,” Kobe told reporters. “I dreamed about it everyday.” He would go on to win his 1st NBA title with the Lakers.
Kobe’s 2005-06 Season
Between the title contending years, the Lakers were mediocre at best. Kobe is a superstar and the NBA’s best player but listen to this starting lineup.
Smush Parker – PG
Kobe Bryant – SG
Lamar Odom – SF
Kwame Brown – PF
Chris Mihm – C
This lineup isn’t getting anywhere close to a championship. But there’s no excuses with Mamba Mentality. So what does Kobe do??? Umm he just averages a career best 35.4 PPG, including his legendary 81-point game (2nd most points ever in an NBA game behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100).
Somehow, Kobe led the Lakers to 45 wins and to the playoffs where he inserted another legendary moment in his career.
“Job’s Not Done.”
It’s 2009. Kobe & the Lakers are back in the NBA Finals and they go on to defeat the Magic in Game 2 to go up 2-0. Kobe is at the podium of the post game press conference after the win and this moment perfectly defines Mamba Mentality.
Free Throws With An Achilles Tear
In the final moments of the Lakers bout with the Warriors in April 2013, Kobe drives to the paint from the wing. He gets fouled and his Achilles ruptures.
The medical team comes out for Kobe, but if he do not shoot his free throws he is not allowed back in the game. Knowing this, he turns them back around so he can shoot his free throws just in case he can come back. Not only he makes both of his FTs, he walks all the way into the locker room under his own power.
Mamba Mentality is finishing what you started. It’s focusing on the process no matter what. The Lakers were in the playoff race and needed to win the game. Even with a tore Achilles, Kobe know he needed to make his free throws to give his team a chance to prevail.
Everyone was there from Snoop, to Kanye, to Kevin Hart, to Jay-Z.
Kobe’s last game of his 20 year career was one to be remembered. The 37 year old at the time, put an end to his memorable career the only way he could.
Playing 42 mins, he finished with 60 points, but his stretch in the fourth quarter to close out his last game was remarkable. He scores 23 points with 17 straight to close his career out with the win, with Magic Johnson calling him “the greatest to wear the purple and gold.”
“It’s hard to believe it happened this way,” Bryant said. “I’m still shocked about it. … The perfect ending would have been a championship. But tonight was (me) trying to go out, play hard and try to put on a show as much as I possibly could. It felt good to be able to do that one last time.”