In the late years of his career, Kobe Bryant became the elder statesman for the younger generation of NBA stars, relishing in teaching the game of basketball. After his retirement, he continued to work with players and even began coaching his daughter Gianna’s basketball team.
His coaching and mentoring prompted him to launch a basketball venture in the form of the Mamba Sports Academy, where Bryant was heavily involved. It was on the way to the Thousand Oaks facility that he, Gianna, and seven others tragically died in an helicopter crash.
Months after his death, it appears the Mamba Sports Academy will honor the late Los Angeles Lakers icon with a unique gesture by removing his nickname in what since has been described as a mutual decision, according to Marc J. Spears of ESPN:
The Mamba Sports Academy is retiring “Mamba” from its name, out of respect for the late Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.
“Our beliefs and thoughts are Kobe is one of one. ‘Mamba’ is one of one,” Faulkner told The Undefeated. “And with that as we carry on as The Sports Academy, it’s more appropriate to put Kobe in another Hall of Fame, if you will, and to really respect a legacy that is really unrivaled, frankly, and let that live on its own. We will continue to do the work we do. We were fortunate to learn from Kobe. We will carry on much of those learnings that we have in a respectful way.”
The organization will be changing back to their original name, The Sports Academy. The switch has already been reflected on their website and plans to change signage at both the Thousand Oaks and Redondo Beach locations have already been arranged.
Our Statement. pic.twitter.com/NfJ2JZTyvJ
— Sports Academy (@sportsxacademy) May 12, 2020
One can argue that it would be more respectful to keep the facilities named after him given all he has done for basketball, but Faulkner’s comments are a clear indicator that he is still held in high esteem and will always be remembered for his contributions.
The five-time NBA champion will go down in history as one of the most competitive, driven, and inspiring players ever to step foot on the court and will remain an idol for most of this generation’s fans.
The name change is just one of many expected tributes for Bryant as he will certainly have a statue placed out of Staples Center to go along with his two retired jerseys. The Black Mamba was one-of-a-kind and will definitely be missed.