Basketball is Psychology XLV
What is the Mamba Mentality?
Kobe was a pioneer when it came to the mental side of the game of basketball.
His work ethic, his passion, his drive, his relentless pursuit of excellence, his eagerness to learn, and his generosity to share everything he learned was unmatched.
Many play the game, but few change it.
Kobe Bryant changed the game; largely because of his approach, which he called ‘Mamba Mentality’.
There are 3 main characteristics he spoke of that make up the Mamba Mentality:
1. Becoming the best version of yourself
2. Bringing out the best in others
3. The reward is in the journey, not the results
Becoming the Best Version of Yourself
An important question everyone should ask is, “Is the pursuit of becoming a great basketball player (or coach) moving me towards or away from who I want to become?”
Kobe believed basketball should develop your character and make you a better human being. His work ethic is legendary. He was so dedicated to his craft, and he understood how that dedication, and everything else sports taught him, would serve him well in all areas of his life. He was passionate about sharing that wisdom with the next generation.
As he put it, “What we want to do is use sports as the greatest metaphor for life. If we can teach kids how to deal with anxiety, how to deal with pressure, how to deal with failure, how to deal with success through sports; then it in turn helps them to become better people.”
Kobe understood that the same qualities that build a better basketball player, build a better person.
He said, “Everything that I’ve learned from the game of basketball, I’ve carried it over into life. Basketball has helped me be a better person, a better friend, a better father. There are life lessons that are within the game like communication, like unselfishness, attention to detail, empathy, compassion; all those things are in the game. As an athlete if we are aware of those things, it helps us become better human beings.”
Sure, Kobe was driven to win, but the mamba mentality went much deeper than that. He said, “The most important thing is that you become the best version of yourself. Are you better today than you were yesterday? If the answer is yes, then you’re on the right track. That’s the mamba mentality.”
He used the game to become the best version of himself.
Bringing Out The Best in Others
The ultimate sacrifice of leadership is being willing to be misunderstood or even disliked for the sake of the other person. Kobe never shied away from holding his teammates accountable, and as a result, he brought out the best in people.
He truly wanted to bring out the best in others. As he put it, “The most important thing is that your teammates know you’re pulling for them and you really want them to be successful. It’s not just about passing them the ball. That’s not it. You have to figure out how to make them want to be the best version of themselves.”
He knew that in order to win championships, using his emotional intelligence and relationships were key.
The Reward Is In The Journey, Not The Destination
“Understanding that those times when you get up early and work hard, those times when you stay up late and work hard, those times when you don’t feel like working, you're too tired, you don't want to push yourself, but you do it anyway… That is actually the dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. If you guys can understand that, then what you’ll see happen is that you won’t accomplish your dreams, your dreams won't come true, something greater will.”
He summed up his work ethic with this statement, “Basketball never felt like work to me.”
It’s hard to outwork people who love what they do, and Kobe truly loved the game. He believed the work is the reward. He knew the joy is in the journey, the effort, and the doing, not the getting.
Kobe valued every moment of every day. As he put it while talking about the significance of wearing #24, “It was about approaching every day as if it were my last. I had to have that mentality. Every time I look at that number it was like today is the most important day. Today is the day.”
As Kobe reflected on his career, he said that he felt like he had accomplished all that he set out to accomplish, but what he came to realize is that the goal that he set out initially (becoming the greatest of all time) was a very fickle one. He realized that the most important thing in life is how your career moves and touches those around you and how it carries forward to the next generation.
The basketball community lost their hero yesterday.
We won’t move on from this, but we will move forward by carrying on his legacy as we play the game and live our lives with the mamba mentality.
Compete relentlessly, be motivated by your love for the game, always give your best, get better every day, make those around you better, live in the moment and treat today as if it is the most important day, as if it were your last.
Basketball is Psychology was largely inspired by Kobe Bryant.
The ‘Mamba Forever’ collection was created to honor Kobe and all he did for the mental side of the game. Help carry on his legacy.
Shop the Mamba Forever collection and 24% of all proceeds will be donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Kobe made over 100 appearances in his 20 years of working with the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Written By Julie Fournier
Founder & CEO of Basketball is Psychology
Bryant, K., Gasol, P., Jackson, P., & Bernstein, A. D. (2018). The Mamba Mentality: how I play. New York: MCD, Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux.