Some might not consider the late Kobe Bryant to be a top 5 player of all time, but it’s hard to argue the Los Angeles Lakers icon doesn’t belong among the most competitive players to have ever played in the NBA.
Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality” mantra has become the ultimate mindset for NBA players to develop as they try to succeed in the league. Kobe would celebrate signing a new contract by wanting to “black out” in practice the following day. And, he would cast his feelings aside even if facing his close friends on the court, as winning was all that mattered to the five-time NBA champion.
Bryant’s toughness could put people off but motivate others — and Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant belongs among the latter. Durant has said that one of the lessons he learned from Bryant was that he needed to develop a thick skin, via Bleacher Report:
“Really just don’t be a crybaby,” Durant said. “I was at that age, at 23, where I thought the world revolved around me. He was real humble how he approached the game, how he approached his teammates — just life in general. I just learned just from watching his movements, he was an example. He didn’t say much but he was an example by movement. Him and [Michael Jordan] are two dudes I emulate on and off the court what they do. It’ll only make me better.”
Many think that Bryant’s toughness and perfectionism are the traits that catapult him to the top of the list of all-time NBA greats. Oklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander recently said they made Kobe a Michael Jordan “on steroids.”
Interestingly, Gilgeous-Alexander said that Durant would be the best player ever if judged purely on skills. “Durant is 7 feet tall and can do everything Steph Curry can do,” he said.
Victor Wembanyama uses Bryant for inspiration
Bryant keeps inspiring the next generations of NBA stars. One of the most exciting prospects of the last two decades and projected No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama, has said he thinks of Bryant when he is in doubt.
“I think about him almost every day since his death,” Wembanyama says.
“His disappearance shocked me. I admire his spirit, work ethic, and game philosophy… Following his example every day, I try to push my limits. When I suffer, when I have doubts, I often wonder what Kobe would have done. And I know I would have done more.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!