“Mamba Mentality” lives on after Kobe passes

Christian Schwirzbin and Aidan Spizz, Contributing Writer and Sports Editor

Kobe Bryant.  A name that can be recognized by anyone, whether it is as an incredible basketball player, a great father, or a kid yelling “Kobe!” while throwing trash into a trash can.  His legacy will forever live on in the minds and hearts of not only Los Angeles Lakers fans, but also in anyone who respects greatness.

Unfortunately, the news has come out that Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020.  Our condolences go out to all families that were affected by such a tragic event.  The helicopter that crashed in Calabasas, California was on its way to dropping off Kobe and Gianna at their basketball game.  Kobe was often known to fly via helicopter in order to save time.  The helicopter went through thick fog and as a result spiraled out of control.

The sudden death of Kobe Bryant sent shock waves throughout the NBA and the world.  At first, no one believed the story to be true.  

“When I heard the news all I could think was this can’t be true.  It couldn’t be Kobe it’s gotta be a joke,” said junior Dylan Treneman.  

Unfortunately, this was no joke.  After TMZ first reported the crash, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed the story.  Many people in sports and the media felt the exact same way.  ESPN had a special broadcasting of people just talking about Kobe and everything he did.  Jay Williams, and many others talked about how special Kobe was not only on the court, but as a person too.  All NBA games throughout the course of the week started off with a 24 second shot clock violation, and an eight second violation.  They did this to pay respects as his numbers were 24 and 8 with the Lakers.  There was even a special tribute to him at the Grammys, and this shows the lasting impact Kobe had on everyone around him.

On the court, Kobe was flat out dominant.  Over the course of his career, he averaged 25 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists.  Many would make fun of Kobe for not passing the ball enough, but the fact of the matter was that he didn’t need to.  Kobe could win by himself because of his competitiveness and motivation to win.  Kobe would constantly work on his games and often times would wake up at 3:00 a.m. to get a full workout in before practice.  His drive to become better became known as the Mamba Mentality.  Kobe demonstrated this Mamba mentality many times in his career.  For example, his bank-in three pointer to win the game over Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat showed off his greatness.  Another time was when he refused to lose to the Raptors, and hit three straight three-pointers to send the game into overtime.  Even the funnier moments when Matt Barnes faked a pass at Kobe’s face and Kobe didn’t flinch showed his greatness.  These moments are just the result of the countless hours in the gym, working on his craft.  His work ethic showed off the most when he dropped 60 points against the Utah Jazz in his final NBA game, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot.  

The 18-time All Star began his career in the 1996-1997 season.  Kobe came into the league claiming that he was going to be better than Michael Jordan, who is arguably the greatest player of all time.  However, his rookie season did not go how he envisioned.  The Philadelphia native only scored 20 or more points on four occasions, while only logging at least 30 minutes five times.  His best game from his rookie season was probably the Jan. 3 game against the Sacramento Kings.  In 22 minutes he scored 21 points and had five rebounds, an assist, two steals, and two blocks.  Over the course of his rookie season, Kobe only scored 7.6 points, easily the least of his career.  Then, Kobe’s Mamba Mentality took over.  

“To sum up what Mamba Mentality is, it means to constantly try to be the best version of yourself,” said Bryant.  

Between the 1999-2000 season and the 2012-2013 season, Kobe never averaged under 22.5 points per game.  In that span, Kobe also won five championships, was a two time scoring champ, won the Finals MVP Award two times, won the 2007-2008 MVP Award, and became the all time leading scorer of the Lakers, a very storied franchise.  

What made Kobe so special though was his character off the court.  He was a family man, and spent a ton of time with his wife Vanessa and daughters Gianna, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. 

“I have a life and I have my routine at home.  It’s not that I don’t want to go to Lakers games, but I’d rather be giving Bianka a shower and sing Barney songs to her.  I played 20 years and I missed those moments before.  For me to make the trip up to Staples Center, that means I’m missing an opportunity to spend another night with my kids when I know how fast it goes… I want to make sure the days that I’m away from them are days that I absolutely have to be.  I’d rather be with them than doing anything else,” said Bryant in Oct. 2019.  

For someone who is as accomplished as Kobe, he still considered his family his greatest accomplishment.  One of his greatest joys was coaching his daughter Gianna and her friends for Team Mamba and just watching his daughter do what she loves.  Kobe’s dedication to Team Mamba was extraordinary, and showed how much he cared about his daughter and teaching others.

Kobe will be remembered forever.  Not only is he a star in the United States, but memorials are being held for him all over the world.  

 “Mamba out.’ But in the words of us, ‘Not forgotten.’ Live on, brother,” said Lebron James, current Lakers forward and one of Kobe’s closest friends.

Rest easy, Kobe.