The Mamba Mentality Lives On


Tyler Vinhais

Kobe in the Skies. January 16, 2022.

     Kobe Bryant passed away two years ago on January 26, 2020, alongside his daughter, Gianna and seven other passengers when their helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, CA. 

     Growing up, Bryant looked up to his father, Joe Bryant, who was also an American basketball player in the NBA. This fueled Bryant’s passion for basketball as he wanted to play in the NBA and follow his father’s footsteps.

     Bryant attended Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA, where he was drafted from, leaving them with their first championship in 53 years.

     Bryant was drafted on June 26, 1996 as the 13th pick of the NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets. As part of a pre-agreed deal, the rights to his contract were traded to the Los Angeles Lakers five days later. At 18 years old, Bryant became the youngest athlete to play in an NBA game at that time.

     In Bryant’s first season, he won the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest and in his second, he was named the youngest All-Star in league history and scored a team high 18 points for the Western Conference.

     Early on, Bryant created a name for himself in the league. Bryant’s work ethic and performances every night were unlike any other player’s. 

     In Bryant’s autobiography, released in 2018, “Kobe Bryant The Mamba Mentality: How I Play,” Bryant writes, “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.” 

     Bryant reportedly slept only four hours  a day throughout his time in the league. He was not willing to sacrifice his family time or basketball so he sacrificed his sleep.

     Health teacher and JV Boys Basketball Coach at Foran, Mr. Jeffery Raucci, states, “The first thing I think about when I think of Kobe is just his refusal to be outworked.”

     Bryant won his first championship in his third year in the league where he teamed up with Shaquille O’Neal against the Indiana Pacers; Bryant averaged 15.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in the finals. 

     Bryant and O’Neal went on to three-peat in the next two seasons, beating the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets in the 2001 and 2002 finals.

     Bryant later won another championship in 2009 against the Orlando Magic where he received the Finals MVP. The next season, Bryant teamed up with his favorite teammate of his career, Pau Gasol, and went on to pocket his fifth championship and second Finals MVP award against the Boston Celtics. 

     Bryant played the final game of his career on April 13, 2016 where he scored a memorable 60 points on the road in Utah which included 23 fourth quarter points for the win. 

     After a devoted 20 seasons for the Lakers, Bryant left his mark on the league with 33,643 total career regular-season points, leaving him at the fourth spot behind LeBron James, Karl Malone, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

     Senior Charlie Diamantis, captain of the Boys Basketball Team, comments, “I think of his work ethic and ability to play through pain.”

     In one of Bryant’s games in the 2012-2013 season, the Lakers were playing the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center. Towards the end of the game, Bryant was fouled hard and as a result, tore his Achilles tendon. Before retreating to the Lakers’ locker room, Bryant stayed in the game in order to shoot his two free throws, sinking them both. The Lakers later went on to win the game by two points.

     Bryant’s two jersey numbers, 8 and 24, were retired for the Lakers in 2016 and Bryant was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in May of 2021.

     Junior Zach Trevethan, member of the Foran Varsity Boys Basketball team, states, “Kobe has influenced me by showing me what it’s like to work hard and have dedication for something you love.”

     Although Bryant is gone from the world, his legacy will forever live on in the game of basketball, inspiring many to strive for greatness and to achieve the impossible.