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Kobe Bryant’s Five Pillars of the Mamba Mentality

Kobe Bryant’s Five Pillars of the Mamba Mentality

Kobe Bryant’s Five Pillars of the Mamba Mentality

Kobe Bryant was one of the most polarizing players to play in the NBA.  Although he is considered one of the all-time greats to play the game, he did so in his own style.  But this style did not come without much criticism, particularly for his almost stubborn willingness to place the game on his shoulders to determine the outcome of the game.

And although Kobe Bryant was taken from us far too young, he left behind five pillars of the Mamba Mentality from which we can better understand both the man and the player.  Below we are going to review Kobe Bryant’s five pillars of the Mamba Mentality to better understand both the player and the man behind the Black Mamba.

Why Was Kobe Bryant Called the Black Mamba?

The Black Mamba nickname was actually coined by Bryant himself.  Inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s 2003 film, Kill Bill, in which the mamba snake was code for a deadly assassin, Bryant believed that the mamba fully embodied his basketball play style.

And Bryant would even expound on the nickname, stating, “Mamba mentality is all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most.  It’s the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit.  It started just as a hashtag that came to me one day, and it’s grown into something athletes – and even non-athletes – embrace as a mindset.”

To Bryant, the Mamba Mentality was more than a figure of speech or a simple nickname, it was an embodiment of his competitive spirit on the court.  His willingness to put it all on the court and to push himself, day-in and day-out, to be the best version of himself.

Kobe Bryant even furthered his explanation of the Mamba Mentality in his book, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play, stating “I always aimed to kill the opposition.”  He would further this explanation in the book, writing, “the mindset isn’t about seeking a result – it’s more about the process of getting to that result.  It’s about the journey and the approach.  It’s a way of life.  I do think that it’s important, in all endeavors, to have that mentality.”

To sum up the Black Mamba philosophy, we look to Bryant once more, where he states, “to sum up what mamba mentality is, it means to be able to constantly try to be the best version of yourself.  That is what the mentality is.  It’s a constant quest to try to better today than you were yesterday.”

Kobe Bryant Michael Jordan

What Are the Five Pillars of the Mamba Mentality?

While understanding what the Mamba Mentality is, is important, it is even more important to understand the pillars of the mentality.  By understanding the pillars of Bryant’s mentality, not only can you help yourself to become a better athlete, but you can truly become a better version of yourself.

In essence, the five pillars of the Mamba Mentality should be seen as a way of life.  Although many people believe the five pillars are meant to be used as an athletic guidebook, nothing can be further from the truth.  The five pillars of the Mamba Mentality are meant to be used to better yourself in all aspects of your life.

The five pillars of the Mamba Mentality, which we will expound upon below, are resilience, fearlessness, relentlessness, obsessiveness, and passion.

Kobe Bryant’s Five Pillars of the Mamba Mentality


While Kobe Bryant was magnificent on the court, both his professional and private life were filled with criticism.  Seen as a selfish player, Bryant would hear his fair share of doubts from players, coaches, journalists, and fans alike.

And that is why resilience is the first pillar of the five pillars of the Mamba Mentality.  Resilience does not just mean the ability to withstand criticism, but also expands to being able to prove your doubters wrong.  Although Bryant had his fair share of criticism, his basketball accolades speak for themselves, ultimately proving his doubters wrong.


The Mamba Mentality is about fearlessness.  And this fear can be both self-inflicted or can come from critics and doubters.  But to fully embody the Mamba Mentality, you must develop a sense of fearlessness within yourself.  You should neither fear another person, nor your own doubts.

And Bryant understood fear.  Game after game, opposing players would attempt to bully his style of play, distract him from his goals, and play tough one-on-one defense against him.  But Bryant never shirked from his responsibilities, never backed away from a challenge, and never doubted his abilities.

Writing again in his book, Bryant claimed, “if I wanted to implement something new into my game, I’d see it and try incorporating it immediately.  I wasn’t scared of missing, looking bad, or being embarrassed.  That’s because I always kept the end result, the long game, in my mind.  I always focused on the fact that I had to try something to get it, and once I got it, I’d have another tool in my arsenal.  If the price was a lot of work a few missed shots, I was OK with that.”

Kobe Bryant’s Five Pillars of the Mamba Mentality


Perhaps the pillar that is best associated with Bryant is relentlessness.  The road to greatness requires motivation, hard work, and sacrifice, all of which Bryant was willing to do to become the best at his game.  And being relentless means making sacrifices day-in and day-out.

Bryant would write, “I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my game, but I also wasn’t willing to sacrifice my family time.  So, I decided to sacrifice sleep, and that was that.”


Another great pillar of the Mamba Mentality is obsessiveness.  While we should always strive for equilibrium, we must be obsessed with our end goal and reaching our destination.  Whether you are looking to start your own business, write a book, or even start your own website, you must be obsessed with the goal and take every step you can to reach it successfully.

Once again, we look to Kobe’s own words on obsession, “If you really want to be great at something, you have to truly care about it.  If you want to be great in a particular area, you have to obsess over it.”

Kobe Bryant’s Five Pillars of the Mamba Mentality


The last pillar of the Mamba Mentality is passion.  And, perhaps unfortunately, passion cannot be faked.  It cannot be mimicked or bought or be used as a façade.  Whatever you are trying to reach, you must be passionate about it. 

Again, whether you are looking to start your own business or are simply looking to better develop your basketball skills, you must be passionate about what you are working towards.  Without passion, you will not be able to sustain the obsession needed to be successful.

In fact, longtime Los Angeles Lakers trainer Gary Vitti stated on the Legends of Sport podcast, “(Kobe) was talented, but what if I told you he wasn’t the most talented guy out there?  I’m telling you, and I’ve had them all, there’s nothing really special about Kobe.  I mean he’s a big guy, but he’s not that big.  He was quick, but he’s not that quick.  He’s fast but wasn’t that fast.  He was powerful, but he wasn’t that powerful.  There were other players that had more talent than he did, so what was there about him that more talented players had zero rings and he ended up with five?”

And Vitti would answer his own question, when he told CNBC that the answer is that Kobe simply outworked everyone.  Kobe not only worked harder than anyone else, but he also worked smarter, he was, “intellectually brilliant at his job.”

How to Incorporate the Five Pillars of the Mamba Mentality into Your Own Life

If you are looking to incorporate the five pillars of the Mamba Mentality into your own life, it is important to first identify what you want to accomplish.  Whether you want to start a business, reach your pique level of fitness, or just be a better employee, you need to identify just what you want.

Once you have identified just what you want, you will need to begin implementing the five pillars.  Build a resilient nature and one that cannot be stopped.  Be fearless and obsessed on your goal and reaching it successfully.  Be willing to put in the time, sacrifice, and relentlessness that is required to be successful.  And lastly, be passionate through-and-through.