Blog by Tom Hilbig (Sport Psychologist)
Kobe Bryant was a polarising player, possessing tremendous skill, athleticism, and fearlessness on the court, but also drawing criticism for his willingness to take challenges head-on, and often single-handedly determine the outcome of games.
While inspiring and spectacular to some, these traits also came across to many as selfish, arrogant, and not always in the team’s best interest.
To many, Kobe’s play-style contradicted a team-oriented basketball philosophy on how the game ought to be played.
Kobe’s successes and failures were magnified and dissected over the course of his career; used as a tool for fans confirming their beliefs and supporting journalists’ agendas.
Post-retirement, Kobe remained a prominent figure around NBA circles as he actively promoted his brand and business ventures.
In the five years until his tragic, untimely death, fans had the opportunity to learn about the man behind the titles, records and scrutiny.
With the benefit of a successful, well-travelled career behind him, Kobe reflected and imparted knowledge on a subject that countless had revered for over a decade:
The Five Pillars of the Mamba Mentality:
‘The Black Mamba’ was a nickname and alter-ego Kobe created for himself in a deliberate effort to handle significant off-court issues in his life, and allow him to perform on-court to the level he expected of himself.
‘Kobe’ would deal with the issues with his personal life, and ‘The Black Mamba’ took care of business on the basketball court.
In spite of obstacles, Kobe persevered.
Even a ruptured achilles tendon couldn’t stop him from shooting – and making – the free throws he was owed.
Nor did an injured right (shooting) shoulder: he just shot with his left.
Intense scrutiny comes with the territory of being a professional athlete, and Kobe certainly fed off the negatively directed at him and harnessed it to fuel him on-court.
However, this was not the driving force behind Kobe’s quest for domination, nor was it a reason to shy away from big plays.
Instead Kobe embraced those crucial moments, whatever the result.
Despite missing 15,000 shots in his NBA career, Kobe had the confidence to back himself and shoot the next one over, and over, and over again.
- Relentlessness & 4. Obsessiveness
Kobe was a fierce competitor at heart. However, beyond the 1v1 battles and fearlessness in making big plays was a relentless, intense work-ethic and dedication to preparation before he played.
He had trained and prepared himself with game-like intensity and obsessive attention to detail so come game-time nothing was out of the ordinary.
Kobe made the decision in high school and during his professional career to get up at 4-5am and get in a work out.
By his logic, starting earlier allowed him to get more done than his NBA peers – sometimes several hours of training more each day .
He believed that over the course of his career, this would separate him from others to the extent that they could never recover and bridge the gap.
Former NBA player, Jay Williams, shares a short story on Kobe Bryant’s insane work ethic:
All of this begs the question: What drove Kobe to work so hard, for so long?
When asked how he developed or learned that mindset, Kobe has said that “it’s a matter of what is important to you.”
Kobe was passionate about basketball, and didn’t feel good about himself if he wasn’t doing everything he could to be the best version of himself he could be.
These were things that he valued.
Listen to Kobe Bryant discussed the origin and significance behind the Mamba Mentality here:
How You Can Utilize the Mamba Mentality:
Everyone can’t be Kobe. He was shaped a family of professional athletes, benefited from a privliged upbringing, and possessed advantageous natural ability and physical attributes.
What you can be, is the best version of yourself – just like Kobe aspired for.
The Mamba Mentality was as much Kobe’s approach to life as it was to basketball.
Draw upon this to form your own, and live it.
Ask yourself some honest questions:
- What do you value? What’s important to you?
- Are you making consistently choices that reflect your values?
- What drives you to work harder and longer than everyone else?
- Do you constantly source motivation in order to achieve your goals?
- Are you confident in your ability, irrespective of other’s opinions?
- How do you respond to setbacks?
- Are the people surrounding you supportive of your vision?
If you want to work on your mindset, motivations or better understand your values, contact Athlete IQ at www.athleteiq.com.au and work with our team of sports psychologists.
Book in your first free consultation today at athleteiq.com.au