Mamba Mentality

Share This Post


*Mamba Mentality*

I have a confession. I have never been crazy about basketball. I played the game in school, but I was too short and my body was too frail for the 625-gram ball to find any meaning in my life.

It was this lack of craziness that the only superstars from the game I ever knew of were Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, also because the names sounded similar.

It was early this year that I first heard about another of the game’s legends, *Kobe Bryant*, and because of the news of his demise in an air crash. Then, the more I read and saw of this man just led me to feel an immense amount of respect for his basketball prowess and the efforts he made over the years to reach the pinnacle.

As I read about Bryant, I realized that life for him was not free of controversies. The worst came in 2003 when he, at the top of his career, was charged with sexual assault. He proclaimed himself innocent and the charges were later dropped. Bryant and his accuser reached a civil settlement, and his reputation was badly tainted.

This is when he named himself “Black Mamba” as an alter ego to cope with the backlash. Bryant adopted the nickname to separate his life on and off the court.

Black mamba, by the way, is a species of venomous snake native to parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Bryant said of the animal that inspired the name –”When I step on that court, I become that. I am that killer snake. I’m stone cold, man.”

Anyways, the reason I bring Kobe Bryant to you today is because there are not too many people in the world who have approached practice and mastering the craft as he did during his basketball career.

Anyways, another basketball great, Phil Jackson, while sharing an insight into Bryant’s mentality, said that the amount of work he was putting in every day to get better was radical – “we saw a guy that did some miraculous things. It was dedication. I often went to work at 8:30, and if we had a late-night, that’s pretty early. I’d pull into my parking spot, and Kobe’d be there taking a nap in his car. He’d been there since 6:30 working out. He had a remarkable drive towards getting better. I’ve never seen another player attack his personal habits the way he did.”

In the wake of his retirement from professional basketball, Bryant decided to share his vast knowledge and understanding of the game to take readers on an unprecedented journey to the core of the legendary “Mamba mentality.”

Thus, was born his autobiography, “The Mamba Mentality : How I Play” 

The book chronicles Bryant’s life journey and reveals his famously detailed approach and the steps he took to prepare mentally and physically to not just succeed at the game, but to excel. He has also shared how he studied an opponent, how he channelled his passion for the game, and how he played through tough injuries.

One of the most insightful parts from the book is when Bryant explains how his obsession with gaining any advantage he could get during games led him to study the Referee’s handbook. Yes, the referee’s handbook!

He understood that every referee was in charge of a specific part of the court, as he wrote –“I made a point of reading the referee’s handbook. One of the rules I gleaned from it was that each referee has a designated slot where he is supposed to be on the floor. If the ball, for instance, is in place W, referees X, Y, and Z each have an area on the court assigned to them.”

This helped him figure out that there are certain areas on the floor referees don’t see that good. He claims he got away with a lot of small things frequently when he was in those situations during games –“When they do that, it creates dead zones, areas on the floor where they can’t see certain things. I learned where those zones were, and I took advantage of them. I would get away with holds, travels, and all sorts of minor violations simply because I took the time to understand the officials’ limitations.”

This passage establishes just how badly Bryant wanted to win, even if that meant working on the blind spots of not just his opponents but also the referees overseeing the games he played.

There are all sorts of stories related to Kobe Bryant’s ultimate competitiveness and approach to basketball. This one is just one of them that proves only the truly greats pay such attention to details in combination with the hard work they put in at the game every single day.

One of the factors that made Bryant such a legend was that he stacked the odds in his favour by understanding how the referees moved around the court, and patiently waiting for them to reach their blind spots that he could take advantage of.

You may, well, call it the Mamba Mentality.

This too shall pass, There is no substitute to hard work and the attention to detail, Work on the blind spots and stay blessed forever.