Published on October 23, 2018
On January 26, 2020, sports legend Kobe Bryant and his oldest daughter, Gianna (13) died in a helicopter crash on the way to Gianna’s basketball game. Click here to read the Variety article. When Kobe retired he wrote The Mamba Mentality about his strategic view of the game and how it should be played combined with a score of intimate pictures of Kobe in the game. On this tragic day, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play is a look at one of the great minds of the game.
People who know me will wonder how it is that I came to read a book by a sports icon about the way the game is played. It’s simple. I was visiting Tennessee, my Ipad (where all my books are stored) was malfunctioning and someone had gifted my dad a copy of the book. I found it on the bookshelf of the bedroom in which I was staying. As a much younger person frequently went to the Ann Arbor library; I read scores of sports biographies and autobiographies. Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Billie Jean King, etc…. I don’t remember any of the basketball icons of the day but I loved watching the Harlem Globetrotters. In the age of social media, the magnitude of celebrity has risen but the greats remain greats for a reason.
Bryant’s greatness was part talent, part determination and part intelligence in his chosen field. He knew not only how to play the game but how to stay in the game. The Mamba Mentality: How I Play is a dive into Bryant’s past, and an insight into the game highlighted with pictures taken by award-winning sports photographer, Andrew D. Bernstein. The stories are short and succinct and well suited to the bite-sized adaptable inspiration offered. Kobe highlights his good and doesn’t shy away from the bad in his take what you will from the experience presentation.
I think if you’re a basketball player or even a basketball fan, you are going to take more from this read than I did. You may be frustrated by the cocktail-like, table book nature of the read. The stories were short enough that I didn’t get bored, but really, I read the book to fill time. I will say, it did feel like that there was something less abbreviated coming. That this sports icon had more to say. I don’t know if he wrote anything else but looking at his author listing on Amazon, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play appears to have been his only book, which is a shame. The Mamba Mentality: How I Play is really done, flows well and is engaging. The same year that Bryant wrote The Mamba Mentality: How I Play, he won an Academy Award for his animated short film, Dear Basketball which had been written and narrated by the sports star. The film is Bryant’s love letter to the game. If you search Youtube, you will easily find the movie and it is well worth watching.
The legacy of this icon is yet to be seen but his loss is sorely felt by family, friends and fans left behind. To everyone personally affected by this loss, my sympathy is extended to you. We lose people in our lives every day but the loss of those who inspire and who we attain to be can be especially sweet. For adolescents and young adults who grew up watching Bryant play the game and aspiring to be like him, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play will be a treasured read.
Buy The Mamba Mentality: How I Play by Kobe Bryant on