The Mindset of Kobe Bryant

The start of 2020 was really eventful, and one of the news that shocked the entire world was the death of the basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, and seven other passengers who died in a tragic helicopter crash on January 26th.

Bryant possessed sheer talent that enabled him to earn 18 All-Star selections, five NBA championship titles, two NBA Finals MVP awards, and two Olympic gold medals through his 20-year NBA career. However, what many of his fellow friends and colleagues claim is that it wasn’t only his talent that helped him rise to greatness; it was also his sheer mental fortitude.

There are no better words to describe Bryant’s mindset than his own coinage: “Mamba mentality.”

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The Mamba mentality is a play on words and a term Kobe Bryant came up with to refer to his specific mindset. If you’re Bryant’s fan, then you probably know that his nickname is “The Black Mamba” or simply “Mamba.”

Bryant came up with his nickname in 2003-2004. At that time, he was at a low point both in his personal life and his career. So, as a way of coping with everything, he decided to create an alter-ego. And, that is how “The Black Mamba” was born.

This is what Kobe had to say about his alter-ego in an autobiographical documentary called Muse.

“I went from a person who was at the top of his game, had everything coming, to a year later, having absolutely no idea where life is going or if you are even going to be a part of life as we all know it. I had to separate myself. It felt like there were so many things coming at once. It was just becoming very, very confusing. I had to organize things. So, I created “The Black Mamba.”

The inspiration for the nickname came after Bryant saw the movie Kill Bill. In the movie, the mamba snake refers to a deadly assassin who uses a venomous snake to kill another character; and, as Kobe points out his goal was always to “kill the opposition.” Also, Bryant found the temperament, strike, length, and bite of the snake quite captivating as well as the fact that snakes shed their skins. Shedding skin is Kobe’s reference to growing out of his old self.

Here are some key factors for adopting the Mamba mentality.

Hard Work

Kobe Bryant believed that “hard work trumps talent.” It goes without saying that you will meet people whose talent in a certain field goes way beyond yours. But, according to Mamba mentality, only hard work matters and it will undeniably produce great results over time. Even if you don’t have the greatest talent in the world for something, hard work can intensify your existing skills and your improved performance will speak for you.


Your hard work is associated with trust and it won’t pay off if you don’t believe in yourself. So many people called Kobe arrogant, but, in reality, he just believed in himself. His confidence allowed him to advance without hesitation and it also intimidated the opponents who lacked self-confidence. Even though people constantly compare Kobe to the greatest basketball players who preceded him, his only goal was to become the best version of himself; not to compete with and compare himself to others. And, he even once said, “I don’t want to be the next Michael Jordan, I just want to be Kobe Bryant.”

Obsession is Sometimes Desirable

People usually see obsession as something negative; but, in some situations, it is actually desirable. Kobe Bryant was obsessed with winning and dominating and that is exactly what fueled him.

“If you want to be great in a particular area, you have to obsess over it. A lot of people say they want to be great, but they’re not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve greatness. They have other concerns, whether important or not, and they spread themselves out.”

So, if you want to become the next superstar athlete or even build a business that has an impact, you should start obsessing with your goal too.

You Can’t Win Without Missing a Few Shots

So many people stifle their potential, growth, and success because they allow the fear of taking risks to take over. However, every successful person, including Kobe Bryant, will tell you that in order to become great, failure is something you need to be comfortable with. It’s perfectly fine to be afraid of something, just make sure that it doesn’t prevent you from achieving great things. Here’s what Kobe had to say about failure:

“If I wanted to implement something new into my game, I’d see it and try incorporating it immediately. I wasn’t scared of missing, looking bad, or being embarrassed. That’s because I always kept the end result, the long game, in my mind. I always focused on the fact that I had to try something to get it, and once I got it, I’d have another tool in my arsenal. If the price was a lot of work and a few missed shots, I was OK with that.”

Don’t Let Discouragement Bring You Down

So, you tried out something new and you failed. Maybe you failed a few times in a row. Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to free yourself from something that has kept discouraging you for some time. However, you have to tackle all the difficulties and make sure you tackle one at a time. Then, you will see that it’s not impossible to pick yourself up and move on.

“Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. I’m going to do what I always do: I’m going to break it down to its smallest form, smallest detail, and go after it. Day by day, one day at a time.”

Eliminate Your Weaknesses

Kobe Bryant once said, “I built my game to have no holes.” He focused on the smallest details of his game so he could try to master every single aspect of basketball. Once all these small improvements accumulated, they allowed him to dominate the court every single time. The same goes for you. You are the architect of your life. Think of your goal and come up with a clear plan of action. Every now and then make sure to analyze your weak points in order to improve your performance in anything as much as possible.

Creativity Is the Way to Make Gains

To become successful in something, you can’t do what everyone else does. Sometimes, you just need to chart your own path so you could stand out. For example, when Kobe Bryant suffered from an ankle injury, he decided to turn to tap dancing. He realized that it would help him build up ankle strength and also improve foot speed and rhythm. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with uncommon approaches because they can produce extraordinary results.

Kobe Bryant adopted the Mamba mentality which enabled him to achieve incredible results. He was also thoughtful enough to share this special mentality with everyone else in the world, hoping that it will bring every individual one step closer to success.

The greatest part of adopting Kobe Bryant’s mindset is realizing that you don’t need to be extremely talented in order to achieve something, you just need to wok for it hard enough. Think about all these tips and try to realize what areas in your life could you apply them to. Is there something you like doing and that you could become a master of? Are you putting in enough work to achieve mastery?

It is truly tragic that Bryant was taken from this world so young. But, one of the ways to honor him is to take the best aspects of his character and make them a part of yourself. The only proper way to view a person’s legacy is by the impact they had on others. During his life, Bryant truly inspired so many people to work hard and strive for greatness and his legacy will continue to exist even though he is gone.


Tommy P.
Tommy P.

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