It’s been a little over a year since Kobe Bryant’s tragic death. The NBA and fans worldwide continue to remember him by retelling stories of his mystical work ethic.
Bryant coined the phrase “Mamba Mentality,” which in his own words simply meant “trying to get better every day.”
There are numerous moments in Bryant’s career which exemplify the “Mamba Mentality.” Here are a few which stand out:
Working out in the middle of the night
In the summer of 2012, Bryant was playing for the USA basketball team, who were training for the upcoming Olympic games in London. According to the team trainer, Bryant called him at 4:15am and asked him to come to the gym. They worked out for 75 minutes before the trainer went back to the hotel to catch some sleep before the team’s 11am practice. But Bryant wasn’t done.
TRAINER: This next part I remember very vividly. All the Team U.S.A. players were there, feeling good for the first scrimmage. LeBron was talking to Carmelo if I remember correctly and Coach Krzyzewski was trying to explain something to Kevin Durant. On the right side of the practice facility was Kobe by himself shooting jumpers. And this is how our next conversation went — I went over to him, patted him on the back and said,
TRAINER: Good work this morning.
TRAINER: Like, the conditioning. Good work.
BRYANT: Oh. Yeah, thanks Rob. I really appreciate it.
TRAINER: So, when did you finish?
BRYANT: Finish what?
TRAINER: Getting your shots up. What time did you leave the facility?
BRYANT: Oh just now. I wanted to make 800 so yeah, just now.
Bryant was always the first to get to practice
Bryant’s desire to work harder than everyone else was well documented. No more so than in his desire to beat every one of his teammates to practice. Former teammate John Celestand tells a story from when they were teammates in 1999:
The first time I began to understand why he was the best was in the pre-season. In a game against the Wizards, Kobe broke the wrist on his shooting hand. He was always the first person to practice every day, arriving at least an hour and a half early. This would infuriate me because I wanted to be the first person to practice, just as I had always been at Villanova and Piscataway High in New Jersey. To add insult to injury, I lived only 10 minutes from the practice facility — while Kobe was at least 35 minutes away.
I am ashamed to say that I was excited the day after his injury because I knew that there was no way that No. 8 (as former Laker point guard Tyronn Lue called him) would be the first to practice, if he would even be there at all.
As I walked through the training room, I became stricken with fear when I heard a ball bouncing. No, no, it couldn’t be! Yes it could. Kobe was already in a full sweat with a cast on his right arm and dribbling and shooting with his left.
His intense game-day workouts
Most NBA players prefer to take it easy in the day leading up to games. Not Bryant.
According to Hall of Fame sportscaster, Rick Reilly, Bryant’s gameday routine was far from a walk in the park.
Among a dozen other drills, Bryant does suicide push-ups. At the top of the pushup, he launches himself off the mat so hard that both feet come off the ground and his hands slap his pecs. He does three sets of seven of these. This makes me turn away and whimper softly.
Bryant was also known for his pregame shooting routine. It would usually last between 20-30 minutes with 250 shots made as a requirement before he would leave the court, lathered in sweat.
Bryant’s work ethic was evident in high school
In high school, Bryant would reportedly get to the gym at 5 a.m. and wouldn’t leave until 7 p.m. … every single day. He would even challenge teammates to one-on-one games to 100 points. In his worst game, Bryant still won 100-12.
It comes as no surprise that Bryant was a maniac even in high school. At a young age, he had his sights set on being an NBA legend.
Bryant taught himself Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on piano by ear
Bryant’s work ethic and drive wasn’t exclusive to the basketball court. After retiring from the game in 2016, Bryant wrote a children’s book and won an Emmy. He also reportedly taught himself how to play piano.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 22, 2013
He watched film of himself during halftime
Bryant’s desire to improve never ceased. As documented by the great Jackie McMullan, Bryant watched film of himself during halftime in order to make in-game adjustments for the second half.
“He often corrals teammates, fires up the laptop, and shows them precisely how they can carve out easier shots for themselves,” said McMullan.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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