Skip to main content

Former Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant is unquestionably one of the top players in NBA history. His unwavering commitment to his craft pushed him to reach those tremendous heights, but it also led to him often treating his teammates harshly.

The Black Mamba himself once revealed why that was intentional.

Kobe Bryant explained the methods to his Mamba-ness

Kobe Bryant’s extreme dedication to his craft created quite a reputation for the Los Angeles Lakers superstar.

And although he’s unquestionably an all-time great, his treatment of several teammates didn’t exactly generate the most positive vibe in the locker room. In fact, Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy once asked the five-time NBA champion why he had such an attitude with his teammates.

“I asked him one time. I asked him, ‘Why you such an asshole?'” Handy recalled during an appearance on the All the Smoke podcast in June 2021. “I asked him that, and he said, ‘You really want to know?’ You know how he was, and he said to me, ‘Phil, man, some of my teammates don’t understand the work.’ He said, ‘I see dudes walk into practice 10 minutes before practice, and they leave right after. Why the f*** am I gonna pass them the basketball?

“‘I don’t respect their work ethic. I’m in here busting my ass every day trying to perfect my craft, and these dudes don’t want to work on their game. I don’t trust them. So I’m not gonna pass them the basketball. I’m gonna ride them hard every day.’ It made perfect sense when he really broke it down to why he is the way he is with certain dudes. I was just like, ‘Man, I respect that, bro. I respect that.'”

Bryant always noticed when his teammates weren’t matching his level of commitment to their craft. It didn’t rub him the right way, which led to him creating a harsh environment that might push his teammates harder during practices.

His stance wasn’t to ask his teammates to do anything he didn’t do. He wanted them to demonstrate the same type of dedication he did, and being a jerk to them during practice was his way of expressing that message.

Kobe Bryant left an irreplaceable imprint on the NBA

Kobe Bryant spent his entire two-decade NBA career in a Lakers uniform, firmly establishing himself as one of the all-time greats.

His dedication and work ethic helped him earn five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVP awards, a regular-season MVP award, 15 All-NBA Team selections, 12 NBA All-Defensive Team nods, and a two-in-one jersey retirement with the Purple and Gold.

Bryant accomplished all that as his vaunted “Mamba Mentality” embodied his unwavering commitment to the game of basketball. His stern demeanor and laser focus were critical components of the makeup that pushed him to achieve tremendous levels of sustained success and elevate the performance of his teammates all the while.

Even after his death on Jan. 26, 2020, Bryant’s impact on the sport will be felt forever and influence players for decades upon decades.