“The Mamba Mentality” is an essential read for those who love Kobe and basketball

A Book Review: The biography gave great insight on what it is like to be an elite professional athlete.

Kobe Bryant is widely regarded as one of the best basketball players in NBA history and is one of my all time favorite players. But why, what made Kobe so great? His work ethic was unlike any other. There are endless stories about Kobes inhuman work ethic, and that’s what made him so great. He put in the work when no one else was

Kobe Bryant grew up in Lower Merion Pennsylvania and played basketball from a young age. He was always at the top of his class and dominated in high school. At only 18 years old, straight out of high school, Kobe was drafted to the NBA. He said that if he had gone to college, he would’ve gone to Duke because he knew the coach.

I chose to read The Mamba Mentality because I love Kobe and basketball, but I also wanted to learn more about him and how hard he truly worked. I’ve heard many stories of his legendary work ethic, but hearing them straight from Kobe himself is something that I haven’t seen or heard much of.

The biography is split into 3 parts. The beginning contains letters from his coach Phil Jackson and his former teammate and best friend, Pau Gasol. The second part, called Process, discusses Kobes pre and post-game rituals, along with different events throughout his career. The final part, called Craft, is all about how he would play and how he felt playing everyday.

Kobe Bryant’s nickname was the Black Mamba, and that is where the phrase “mamba mentality came from.” The Mamba mentality originally referred to Kobe’s unreal dedication and hard work, but quickly changed to be a “way of life.” As Kobe got older, his routine changed but his approach didn’t. That is what kept him playing at a high level for so long.

Kobe said that the biggest factor in being successful is time management. Kobe would regularly sacrifice his sleep to be successful. He would go to the gym early in the morning before his wife and kids woke up and go to the gym late after his wife and kids were already in bed. He would also change his pre-game routines based on how his body was feeling that day,

Physically, he was built for basketball. Kobe was 6 foot 6 inches and weighed around 210 pounds. He had a 38 inch vertical leap and could bench press about 300 pounds in his prime. His wingspan was 6 foot 11 inches and Kobe is one of the most complete players to ever play basketball.

Most people consider Kobe a Top 5 player to ever play basketball, myself included. His game was perfectly well-rounded and he had no holes. He could shoot, pass, rebound, dunk, defend and is one of the most clutch players ever too. The only knock Kobe gets is that he never passed the ball, but if i was as good as he was, I wouldn’t pass either.

The biography mentions that most of Kobe’s teammates loved playing with him. He was a terrific leader and friend. The only teammates Kobe had problems with were the ones who didn’t put in the work. His goal was to win at any cost and if you didn’t work hard, Kobe would let you know. Winning was the only thing that mattered because he hated losing.

Kobe’s only encounter with a teammate was with Samaki Walker. It all started after Bryant beat Walker in a shoot-around bet and was asking Walker for his $100. Walker told Kobe he would get it to him another day, so Kobe slapped Walker in the face. That is when Walker told Lakers head coach Phil Jackson to stop the bus so he could fight Kobe. No fight happened and later in the day, Kobe called Walker and said the slap was too far.

Many different things made up the “Mamba mentality.” It wasn’t just practicing as hard as you play. Kobe’s routine was grueling. It involved stretching, lifting, training, practicing, recovery, and film study. A lot of players do less lifting and training during the season. Not Kobe, he worked just as hard all the time to be the best.

While other players worked out less during the season to save their energy, Kobe did the opposite. He found that while the work might be difficult from day to day, he would be stronger and better prepared for the late regular season and the playoffs. For the most part, it worked although Kobe did have his fair share of injuries throughout his career.

Kobe Bryant has one of the best resumes in NBA history as well. He was a one time MVP, 18 time all star, 5 time champion, 2 time finals MVP, 12 time all defensive team, 4 time all star MVP,  2 time scoring champ and a Hall of Famer all in his 20 year career.

The book helped me learn a lot more about Kobe’s thought process. Knowing what his mindset was explains why and how he was so great. In the book, Kobe says that losing isn’t an option and the only possible outcome for him is winning, and he will do whatever it takes to do just that.

Sadly, on January 26, 2020 a helicopter with Kobe, his daughter Gigi and 7 other passengers crashed. There were no survivors. When the news broke, the whole world was in shock. The way I felt when I found out Kobe died is indescribable. I didn’t think I could feel so strongly about a person who I don’t even know personally.

The week following the tragedy was a tough one for the NBA community. Games were cancelled, everyone was distraught and in disbelief. The Lakers, the team where Kobe spent his entire 20 season career, honored Kobe and Gigi at their first home game after his passing. Just the day before his passing, Kobe was in Philadelphia and was at the Sixers vs Lakers game.

Kobe Bryant definitely had an impact on me. He is one of my favorite players ever and is a fan favorite across all of basketball. He is someone I grew up watching and his impact off the court was just as big as it was on the court. On top of his countless basketball awards, in 2018, he became the first former professional athlete to be nominated for and win an Oscar. His short film “Dear Basketball” won Best Animated Short Film.

The biography gave great insight on what it is like to be an elite professional athlete. Kobe detailed all the necessary dedication and hard work that it takes to dominate at the highest level. This is what Kobe had to say about people who don’t work hard: I can’t relate to lazy people, we don’t speak the same language, I don’t understand you and I don’t want to.

Kobe Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016, after 20 seasons. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last year. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could be inducted and his wife, Vanessa, gave his hall of fame speech. It is a very heart-wrenching speech but I highly recommend watching it.

The Mamba Mentality taught me about how great Kobe was as a husband, father and athlete. He was taken way too soon, but his legacy will live on forever. Kobe Bryant will never be forgotten and his impact on the world was far more than just your average NBA player.

He will live on forever and in the words of Kobe, “Mamba out.”