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5 NBA Players That Will Carry On The Mamba Mentality
Remember their names and his legacy
Back in January, the world lost one of the brightest stars ever to grace the four corners of a basketball court. Time stopped as fans from all over the world mourned the unexpected passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna (Gigi). He may be resting in paradise now, but his legacy continues to live forever.
Kobe Bryant was one of the most hardworking in all of sports. From a rookie that didn’t get many opportunities to becoming one of the greatest players of all time, he wouldn’t be able to cement his legacy if he didn’t possess the right mindset.
In the latter years of his career, Kobe coined the term “Mamba Mentality.” Its contribution to the lives of athletes and professionals from all over the world remains unmatched. During his 2016 tour in Manila, Kobe shared in an interview that, “Mamba Mentality means to be able to try to be the best version of yourself constantly. It’s a constant quest to try to be better today than you were yesterday.”
Back in his playing days, Kobe was known as a ruthless competitor that outworked everybody. As he grew older, he took the time to nurture the younger generation, establishing himself as a great mentor and friend.
Here are some present-day NBA players that will carry on his legacy.
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1. LeBron James
At this point in his career, LeBron James can still successfully lead the league in assists and guide the Lakers to the first seed of the Western Conference. Truly, LeBron is still one of the best—if not the best—player in the world. With the passing of Kobe, he is now more motivated than ever to bring home a championship for the Purple and Gold.
Even though their playstyles are significantly different, Kobe and LeBron are very similar. Both share a desire to win at all costs, have achieved success in their respective positions and have the determination to become more than an athlete.
It’s unfortunate that they never got a chance to meet in a playoff series, but their regular-season matchups were more than enough to showcase their greatness.
2. Kyrie Irving
Back in 2016, Kyrie Irving nailed arguably one of the best shots in history against arguably the best team in NBA history. He and the Cleveland Cavaliers had their backs against the rope but ended up overcoming a 3-1 finals deficit to beat the 73-9 Golden State Warriors and, ultimately, won the championship.
When asked what was going through his mind during the last few stretches of the game, all Kyrie could say was “Mamba Mentality.” It’s no secret that he idolized Kobe. During the Team USA training camp in 2012, Kyrie really gave life to the phrase, “turn your idols into your rivals” by challenging Kobe to a 1-on-1 contest with money on the line. Since then, the two had developed a great friendship, and Kobe had constantly acted as one of his guiding figures during his championship runs.
Although the past few seasons have been difficult for Kyrie, we can’t wait to see what he and Kevin Durant have in store for the Brooklyn Nets.
3. Kawhi Leonard
As the reigning Finals MVP and 2019 NBA Champion, Kawhi Leonard is poised for another title run with the Los Angeles Clippers. Even though Kawhi’s demeanor is a lot different from Kobe’s swagger, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Kawhi is the player with the closest playstyle to him and Michael Jordan. Since the Mamba had made an effort to mentor Kawhi personally, it’s no surprise that he’s followed in Kobe’s footsteps by dominating both ends of the floor.
In the early days of his career, people had no idea that Kawhi would be the player he is today. By starting as a role player in the Big Three era of San Antonio Spurs, he eventually got the chance to thrive due to his abilities.
With two championships, two Defensive Player of the Year awards and two Finals MVPs, we expect nothing but greatness now that Kawhi is entering his prime.
4. Russell Westbrook
A few years back, Kobe was asked in an interview about which player in the NBA had the same passion as he did for the game. Because of his superhuman athleticism and never-say-die attitude, he noted Russell Westbrook. Now that the former MVP is reunited with his old teammate James Harden, the Houston Rockets are now championship contenders.
Entering the league in 2008, Russell Westbrook was one of the most anticipated prospects in a draft class that included Derrick Rose and Kevin Love. He may have had his fair share of drama and struggles during the last few years of his career, but these didn’t stop him from becoming the best version of himself.
Ever since his MVP campaign back in the 2016–2017 NBA season, Russel’s drive has allowed him to average multiple triple-double seasons.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo
If there’s one player who’s poised to be the next face of the league, it’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. Back in 2017, Kobe went on a Twitter spree and gave out challenges to famous figures in sports and entertainment. When Giannis asked the Mamba for his, his response was simple: win an MVP.
With hard work and sheer dedication to his craft, Giannis answered the call and won MVP honors last year. Before his passing, Kobe took the time to congratulate Giannis and issued another challenge: win an NBA Championship.
Now that the Milwaukee Bucks have the league’s best record, people are expecting him to win back-to-back MVP trophies and take Cream City to the Promised Land.
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These are just some of the athletes that Kobe has inspired over his 20-year career. He may be gone, but his impact will never be forgotten.
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