The Legacy of Kobe Bryant and What We Can Learn from Him
Kobe Bryant may be gone, but his Mamba Mentality still remains in spirit. He was more than just a basketball player, but also a role model and an inspiration. He was also an artist and storyteller, which he got into after his retirement.
His ability to put into words his thoughts, feelings, and way of thinking as a basketball player has been invaluable to countless people and extended his legacy outside the basketball court. He was a teacher, a father, and a genuine human being.
The legacy of the Black Mamba still lives with us all, and it has much to teach us about being great in our own way. Let us look into the lessons he taught us through his game and the things he did beyond it.
Having a Strong Work Ethic
Kobe was the first one in the gym and the last one to leave. He would be at the gym at 5:30AM and start working on his game alone before anyone else showed up. That level of commitment showed in his game, being above and beyond anyone else in the league.
Even in times when his team around him wasn’t championship level, he would still carry the Lakers to seemingly unlikely victories. Both the 8 and 24 eras of his career were marked with high level performance. Other than his achilles injury and times when the Lakers weren’t championship caliber, you couldn’t say there was a low point in his career.
Who else could score 60 points in their retirement game, when they’re already considered well past their prime? Playing at a high level past the age of 35 is rare, but being able to still be the ace of the team at almost 38 years old is almost unheard of.
That’s due to the hard work he put into his game, not just relying on athleticism, but also working on every single technical aspect of his game. He had no holes to speak of, and the worst that elite defenders could force him to do was to take a low-percentage jump shot, which is something he excelled at.
His jump shot was certainly the one thing Kobe worked on relentlessly. His shooting motion is now considered one of the gold standards in basketball due to his consistency and ability to reliably take clutch shots. Kobe’s shots were always as straight as an arrow because he lets his shooting hand do all of the work and his guide hand didn’t get in the way.
You can also have the same work ethic with your shot as Kobe did, especially with the right tools. The Shoot Natural™ glove can help you practice your shot and make it as consistent as Kobe’s was.
See Value in Everything
His work ethic and curiosity extended beyond the basketball court. Everything he did and got interested in was looked at with a basketball lens. If something didn’t have anything to offer him as a basketball player in some way, he wouldn’t look twice at it. But if he saw even an inkling of value from something new, he would investigate it.
Kobe proved himself to be more than just a basketball player after he retired. He got into storytelling, writing books and producing films that drew from his ability to see value in things outside of basketball. There is no other professional athlete out there who also won an Oscar other than Kobe. It was due to his ability to see value in everything, even those that may not be directly linked to basketball.
Victory Loves Preparation
Kobe didn’t rely solely on his skills to carry him through. He would also prepare against opponents by doing his homework. Kobe would watch film obsessively to find weaknesses in the opposing team’s game and know their habits and tendencies like the back of his hand.
The Latin phrase “Amat victoria curam” is something you can attribute to Kobe’s approach to basketball. His attention to detail left no stone unturned, and his diligence made sure that he wouldn’t be caught unprepared. He always did his homework, and the resulting level of knowledge in the game would later be shared in his show Detail.
Learn from the Best
When Kobe came into the league, he would often be called the successor to the great Michael Jordan. He challenged the GOAT in his own game and never backed down. While everyone else wouldn’t even mention him by name, instead calling him “Black Jesus” or “Black Cat,” as if he wasn’t even human, Kobe didn’t care and called him Mike.
MJ respected that combination of talent, competitiveness, and fearlessness so much that he would then give Kobe advice on his game. On and off the court, they were both fierce adversaries, as well as mentor and student.
Kobe listened to every word and asked the right questions. Michael took it a step further and gave Kobe his phone number, telling him to give a call whenever he needed. Soon enough, they fostered a close brotherly relationship that would last for the rest of Kobe’s life.
He would later state that he resented comparisons between him and Jordan because much of what he had was from Jordan. If it weren’t for His Airness, we wouldn’t have the Black Mamba.
Never Be Afraid of Failure
Failure never gave him anxiety. In his rookie season, he infamously shot four airballs within five minutes against the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals. The Lakers would lose the game and Kobe was made the scapegoat for throwing that crucial game.
Such an embarrassing display would’ve derailed any prospect’s career, especially with the media hounding him about it for years. But it didn’t shake Kobe’s confidence one bit. In hindsight, those four air balls wouldn’t define him, but his response to that performance did.
From the start, he looked at that failure with an objective lens. All those shots were lined up with the basket, but didn’t have enough energy to reach it. He realized that it was because he didn’t have the legs yet to play a full NBA season and be able to perform well in the playoffs.
High school games were played weekly, while NBA games were played on a grueling back-to-back schedule. Kobe knew he had to work on his body to be able to play 82 regular season games every year and still be able to take it up a notch in the playoffs.
Even back then, his shooting form was already on point. His shots were all on target, so he only had to work on the strength of his legs to correct his airball problem. But his shooting motion was just right, his shooting hand had the right motion, and his guide hand didn’t interfere with the shot. That’s something you can work on as well with the Shoot Natural™ glove.
Perhaps it was fate that the final game of his career was against the Utah Jazz. He had already long redeemed himself for those four airballs with five NBA championships. However, he put an exclamation point to his legacy by scoring 60 points and helping the Lakers win that game.
Focus on What You Can Control
During what was arguably Kobe’s darkest time, when he was being accused of sexual assault in 2003, his whole life was thrown into turmoil. He then started asking himself what he could do to get out of the predicament or somehow improve his situation. Soon enough, he realized that the one thing he still had control over is basketball.
He threw himself into the game, with his entire focus on improving and dominating while still in the midst of a legal battle. The lawsuit later fell through and all criminal charges were dropped. Any lawsuit can bring stress and chaos into anyone’s life, but Kobe made sure it didn’t affect the one thing that he lived for, which was basketball.
Despite all that, Kobe stayed in shape, kept his family together, and performed at the top level on the basketball court. He would then win two more NBA championships in 2009 and 2010. He could have been derailed at any time during that dark time, but he focused on what he could control and came out of it a stronger person.
His untimely death is unfortunate not only because we lost a basketball legend, but also because he was still doing great things well after his retirement. Also, even in his last moments, he was doing the role he valued the most after basketball, which was being a father.
The best we can do for him is to learn from his example and acquire our own Mamba mentality so we can achieve greatness in our own way.