The ‘Black Mamba’ lives on

The Hustle With Russell

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I was at work on Sunday, Jan. 26 when I heard about the helicopter crash that killed the “Black Mamba” Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
Working at the Baxter YMCA, I see a lot of basketball fans on a daily basis. On Sunday, I watched as many people took a break from their workouts to sit down for a few minutes to pull out their phones and read the news. My social media feed was dominated by tributes to Bryant and Gianna. I also saw that some people didn’t really know who Bryant was or why he was so important.
To be fair, I understand that not everyone follows the NBA, so this is for the people who know Bryant is one of the most well-known players in the history of the NBA but don’t know why. What made Bryant so great on the court, and what makes a man a mamba?
Those that have heard the name Kobe Bryant have probably also heard the name Black Mamba. Bryant gave himself the nickname after one of the deadliest snakes in the world and an assassin from Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill.”
Bryant definitely lived up to this name throughout his 20-year career, proving he was a relentless opponent that could strike at any moment. Winning five national titles with the Los Angeles Lakers and currently sitting fourth on the list of all-time scoring with 33,643 points, Bryant has certainly left a legendary mark on the game of basketball that won’t be forgotten.

To watch the video of Bryant displaying his “Mamba Mentality,” scan the QR code above.

My personal favorite Black Mamba moment happened when The Lakers played the Orlando Magic on March 7, 2010. Bryant had been getting into it with the Magic’s Matt Barnes when Barnes took a ball within a foot of Bryant’s face and acted like he was going to pelt him straight in the face. Bryant responded by not moving at all and showed no signs of backing down or flinching. This is the perfect example of the “Mamba Mentality” Bryant possessed.
This is what made Bryant so likeable for fans across the globe. I always hear people talking about how the NBA has changed and gone soft, but the way Bryant played was reminiscent of the times when basketball was more focused on being physical and running through someone standing in the way instead of trying to sell as many fouls as possible.
Kids could look up to Bryant as a man that wouldn’t ever be afraid of a challenge. When kids in schools all around America would shoot their wadded up papers in the trash can, whose name would they throw out, too? The Black Mamba’s. Those same kids weren’t always passionate NBA fans either, but they knew the name Kobe. The Black Mamba was a household name then, now and will be for generations.