When Kobe Bryant was at the height of his powers and leading the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships, he was revered but oftentimes criticized for his killer mindset.
This became famous around the league as ‘Mamba Mentality,’ which referred to Bryant’s consistent ability to dominate and enforce his will over his opponents regardless of the situation.
This mindset rubbed some the wrong way but became a mantra for Lakers fans even while the team was struggling to get wins. Once LeBron James and Anthony Davis joined this historic franchise, fans knew it was championship or bust since that was the mindset Bryant instilled during his 20 seasons in Los Angeles.
Bryant spoke about his sometimes controversial mindset, according to Bill Plaschke of Los Angeles Times:
“I think that mentality when I was playing, it made a lot of people uncomfortable, the things I would say, like, if we blew the NBA Finals, it was a failure of a season,” he acknowledged this week. “But that’s the right way to compete, that’s the reality of it, and I think this helped change the perspective of some our fans in our city. You don’t want to be a Finals losers, you want to win the whole damn thing.”
Bryant also spoke directly to how spoiled the Lakers and their fans are with their history of landing superstar talent:
“As a city, we’ve been so spoiled, we’ve had so many all-time greats put on purple and gold, we feel like we can minimize people that are currently playing; it happened to me with the whole Magic thing,” he said. “We should appreciate athletes while they are here. We are getting the opportunity to see ‘Bron and Anthony Davis every single night, that stuff is not normal, you know what I’m saying? Appreciate that stuff.”
While Lakers fans may have needed some time to adjust to James, it seems that he’s finally been embraced as Bryant says. And it couldn’t come at a better time with James set to pass Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
The influence that Bryant has with the Lakers and their fans is unmatched by any other team and the respect that he gives to James and Davis make it easy for fans to embrace them while also maintaining that ever-important ‘Mamba Mentality.’