Remembering the legacy of the “Black Mamba”

Michael Harms, Courier Staff

A kid holds a crumpled piece of paper in his hands. He looks over his shoulder at the trash bin about 10 feet away. He pivots on one foot, jumps and raises his arms above his head and flicks his wrist towards the bin and says one name, one statement, one legend: Kobe. Why? Because that name holds power, hope and inspires generations to be the best, just like him.

Bryant became one of, if not the, greatest basketball players ever. He claimed he was the best one on one player in the world and was constantly challenged, but never beaten, at least on record. The difference between Kobe and the rest of the world was not his skillset, but his mind.

For generations, philosophers and psychologists have attempted to define mentality and mindsets that lead to success or failure, but Bryant created his own. Most athletic stars attempt to build success off of their foundations, pure athleticism and hard work, but Bryant, well he did something else entirely. He created a persona, a character, but for him it was who he truly was at heart, the Black Mamba. He claimed he got the idea for the nickname from “Kill Bill,” the Quentin Tarantino movie in which a deadly assassin was given the code name. The snake is known for its aggressiveness, deadly poison and surprise attacks, which made this nickname the perfect match for the legend.

More than just being aggressive and talented, he used what he called “dark emotions” to bring greatness from others. He used his sadness, pain, frustration and rage as a weapon.

“Once I discovered (letting my emotions on the basketball court) everything about the game changed,” Bryant said. “Because now I understood that I could really lose myself through the game. And no matter what happens in life, I could always step onto the basketball court and let my game speak to that, step on the court and just absolutely erupt… The feeling of playing with that rage was new to me but I f—–g love it.”

Players going through a divorce, death of a friend, even just basic hardships, he would egg them on, challenging them to use that pain as offense and drive a person to greatness.

The worst part about Bryant was that he was hated. Outside of L.A., Bryant was not well liked. He dominated your team and had no mercy. He never let up and he let the world know he knew he was the best. That is not a recipe to gain a large following, but it meant everyone knew him. He was one of the most hated men in all of basketball, but nearing the end of his career that all changed. The last day of his NBA career, a commercial was aired for the first time. After hitting a buzzer beater, the fans start to chant “Kobe sucks!” The lights go dark and Bryant becomes a conductor. One by one, he puts a spotlight on different fans of different teams singing about their hate towards him. More and more people join in as Kobe’s smile grows. He becomes content, and happy with the hate-filled audience. He loves the hate, and always did.

Now the world loves him and will surely miss him. The world has been changed thanks to Bryant, the Black Mamba. Hopefully, everyone will learn what It’s like