However, Kobe Bryant is considered an NBA legend for granted. In his 20 years in the NBA, Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant has won as many honours as any player dabbled in basketball. In 2003, Kobe Bryant was one of the most recognisable athletes on the planet and arguably the best player in the NBA in recent memory. Since joining the NBA, Bryant has set the record for the youngest NBA starter ever and quickly became the youngest player to the All-Star Game.
Among those who have admired Kobe Bryant or mentioned his mamba mentality over the years have been LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Larry Nance Jr., who recently played alongside Bryant for the Los Angeles Lakers. By adding “thinking” at the end, the idea was adopted by players worldwide, and Kobe Bryant became a mentor, idol, and inspiration for the next NBA All-Star League. While the Mamba mentality undoubtedly made Kobe Bryant great, it may also have played a role in not playing the field at the end of Kobes’ NBA career.
Mamba-style, Bryant put on a show in his last game for the Los Angeles Lakers, becoming the oldest player ever to lose 60 points in a single game. In the season finale on April 13, Bryant scored a career-high 60 points against the Utah Jazz in his final NBA game, beating the entire Jazz team 23–21 in the fourth quarter in a 101–96 victory for the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite the Golden State Warriors playing and scoring 73 wins in the regular season, the world has seen a man score 60 points in his last game.
When a Los Angeles Lakers player retired his jersey, Bryant also became the only player in NBA history to have two retired jerseys on the same team. During the playoffs, Los Angeles Lakers players wore black Mamba jerseys to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant. This black jersey was designed by Kobe himself, with a snakeskin pattern with yellow embellishments and 16 stars representing the 16 leagues of the Los Angeles Lakers at that time. Even though Bryant didn’t have much time to play at the start of the 1996-97 playoffs, Lil’ Mamba was still in the spotlight.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Bryant won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star, 15-time NBA team member, and 12-time All-Defensive Team member. 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) and two-time NBA Finals MVP.
After Kobe retired, he even opened the Mamba Sports Academy to help budding NBA players and kids who wanted to play basketball. Bryant began coaching his late daughter GiGi Bryant in the NBA and mentoring young athletes at his Mamba Sports Foundation.