On November 3rd, 1996, Kobe Bryant made his NBA debut at just 18 years old. In this game, Kobe got only six minutes of playtime and scored zero points. Two days later, Kobe would go on to score his first point ever in the NBA. By the end of his professional career, Kobe had scored a total of 33,643 points, becoming the third-highest scoring player in the NBA. In the wake of his death this past February, here is a tribute to his lifelong achievements and what we can learn from them.
When students and faculty at Northwest were asked what they wanted to remember Kobe for most people mentioned Kobe’s unique work ethic, or “mamba mentality”. Indeed, alongside his many championships and medals, Kobe was also known for his “mamba mentality”. The black mamba himself described the “mamba mentality” as the attitude of always putting in your best effort, both on and off the court. This mentality was shown in the stories of Kobe training incredibly hard for six to seven hour periods, and others where he refused to leave the gym until he had made 800 shots. Today, this mentality continues to inspire and motivate people to work hard and put their best foot forward.
Many Northwest students are too young to have watched Kobe play during his career, and for the few who have, these are often special memories. My first NBA game I ever watched was Kobe’s last NBA game. Sam M. ’21 reported that he watched a total of 10 live Kobe games, as well as a number of Kobe highlight videos. While Sam doesn’t consider himself a die-hard Kobe fan, he always admired his work ethic. Dashel S. ’23 did not watch Kobe growing up, but he became familiar with Kobe through the basketball video game “2k”. Dash noted how Kobe “was a buck to play with”. Today, Dash enjoys shouting “Kobe!” when shooting a ball into a hoop or throwing a bag of garbage into a trash can. Another Northwest Student who has been affected by the work of Kobe is Owen D. ‘21. Although he too was not able to watch Kobe during his career, he says how we will always look up to the attitude he brought to the court. Owen described how Kobe truly changed the competitiveness and intensity of the game. Northwest Athletic Director, Brit Atack watched a lot of Kobe Bryant’s games in his youth. Like Sam and Dash, Brit was inspired by Kobe’s “mamba mentality”. Kobe’s idea of giving his ALL into each game was mesmerizing to Brit. He had never heard of anyone willing to do so much for anything. Brit even looked up to Kobe when he was off the court. With his charity work, and everything he did for women’s basketball, Kobe truly was an inspiration to Brit and anybody who knew who Kobe was.
Amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, it is very important to push forward. We have to maintain our “mamba mentality” even in times where it seems impossible to keep up. If there’s anything we should take with us from Kobe’s life, it’s that when life is the toughest we still have to push forward.