Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was out at Westfield Culver City Mall on Saturday where thousands of Lakers and Kobe fans gathered to listen to the five-time NBA champion talk about the inspiration behind his new Nike Kobe 9 Elite shoe, and specifically, The Masterpiece.
What inspired Bryant to create a high top shoe? What does the Mamba mentality mean to Kobe? Which Mamba mentality moment means the most to him? What can fans expect from Kobe as the end of his career draws near? Bryant’s question and answer session with Jeff G., aka The Sports Dude On Power 106, is below.
Jeff G.: You just signed a two-year deal…talk about that means to you and what the fans can expect the last two years from Kobe.
Kobe: “This year, we all know it’s been a real tough year for us right? So what I’d like everybody to do is to really just sit back and just absorb this year. Take it all in. Sit back and watch and listen and hear all the hate that’s being thrown at us and remember every person that’s kicking you when you’re down because next year it ain’t gunna be this way.”
Appreciate it now. Let it sit in now, because revenge is sweet and it’s quick.”
JG: There’s a lot of people that have had a lack of faith in the team and your recovery and all those things, but that’s all motivation [for you]?
Kobe: “You’ve got to appreciate that and enjoy that and use that as fuel as motivation to basically just shut everybody the hell up. It’s that challenge, that challenge that drives us all, I think, and definitely keeps me going.”
JG: How does it feel to have your 9th signature shoe?
Kobe: “It’s a huge honor I’m very fortunate to partner with a great company like Nike that really allows me to push innovation and kind of tell my story through the product.”
JG: Nick (Young) thinks he’s the swaggiest of the swaggiest. Who’s got more swag, you or swaggy?
Kobe: “It really doesn’t matter to me. He can wear the 9s and we’ll say Kobe night, designed by Swaggy P. I’m cool with that. He can have all the swag he wants to, man. As long as he plays defense makes shots, I don’t give a damn.”
JG: Clothes are swaggy but rings are swagger…
Kobe: “Hey man listen, it doesn’t get more swaggier than that.”
JG: How about the decision to go with the high cut silhouette?
Kobe: “Honestly, I got that from watching a good friend of mine, Manny Pacquiao spar. I went to one of his sparring sessions and he was wearing his Nike Pacquiao boots and I’m just sitting there watching him move and watching how it’s kind of keeping his foot locked in but he still had good range of movement, and I said you know what, I wonder if I can do that with a basketball shoe and then that’s when that idea first started kicking in.”
JG: What is the Black Mamba mentality?
Kobe: “It’s really about no matter what happens come hell or high water you’re going to figure it out. No matter what. No matter what. So whatever obstacle you meet whatever form of resistance you meet or negativity or injury or whatever the case may be you have this inner belief and inner confidence that you are going to figure out a way to get this done and I think that’s what this mamba mentality represents the most is this never die attitude.”
JG: Are there any moments in your career that are really a true reflection of that mamba mentality?
Kobe: “The 81-point game would seem like that would be it but honestly last year at the All-Star break… that was it. Because it was like you know what I’ve got take this All-Star break, refocus, get in better shape and come back the second half of the season with no mercy and get this team to the playoffs, but that was tough. You’re five games back in the Western Conference, you’re pretty much a nail in a coffin.”
Kobe Bryant Explains The Mamba Mentality And Describes The Moment In His Career That Showcased It The Most