Remembering Kobe Bryant: the Mamba mentality lives on

Dalton Bell and Carlos Hernandez


Clarissa Alderete

Two people share in embrace during Kobe’s Memorial at the Dignity Health Sports Complex on Friday January 31st, 2020.

Brian Melgar, Sports Writer

  Kobe Bean Bryant was an icon in the world of basketball. Often referred to by his nickname Black Mamba, Bryant was a player who inspired a generation of basketball fans and players to revere the sport and exalt its status. Bryant lost his life in a helicopter crash on the morning of January 26, 2020 along with eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant. This tragic event has shaken many in the sporting community, including many here at CSU Bakersfield. 

  Gregory McCall, head coach of the women’s basketball team, had a lot to say about Bryant’s death, and the way that the legendary player influenced his perception of the sport. McCall recalled the moment he first learned of Bryant’s death, saying, “It was 11:30 a. m. We had just finished playing basketball when one of my friends saw it on Twitter. I didn’t believe it. Then it became more real with CNN reporting it, and when it really hit was when it was on ESPN.” McCall brought to attention the fact that, with this tragic event, even “grown men have tears in their eyes” at the loss of such an influential athlete.  

  Beyond the doom and gloom, McCall has fond memories of Bryant, including playing a pick-up game with him before his rookie year. McCall recalled, “It was easy to see how exciting Kobe would be. There was something in his eyes. We played a game with Kobe, and he actually hurt himself during the game. He was going towards the net while another player was backing up, and he ended up tripping and falling with his hands out and breaking his wrists.” 

  CSUB junior center Vanessa Austin also had much to say about Bryant and how she felt when she heard the news. Austin said that she got the news from McCall through her team’s group chat. “Kobe is one of those guys who you think is going to live forever, he can’t die. He’s iconic and legendary,” Austin said. 

  Her statements echo a sentiment highlighting the suddenness of Bryant’s death and the way people can be uplifted as something more in the eyes of their admirers. Austin grew up watching Bryant play, and found inspiration in him as an athlete, especially when he began advocating for players in the WNBA and claiming that he hoped to see both men and women compete on the same court.  

  “It was amazing to have an ally of women basketball players, especially someone as skilled as Kobe Bryant. It really inspired us.” Austin and her teammates are currently contemplating getting Kobe Bryant memorial tattoos and all strive to keep the “mamba mentality” Bryant inspired by working hard and doing their best. 

  Another Roadrunner who spoke out about Bryant was redshirt junior Justin Edler-Davis. Edler-Davis praised Bryant for his “mamba mentality,” and like many others attempted to incorporate that mentality into his game. Adler-Davis said his “mamba mentality” revolves around his work ethic. When asked which version of Bryant he identifies with the most, Edler-Davis said he identifies with “Kobe later in his career. Not quite as athletic as he was when he started, but he still gets the job done and scores high. That’s the Kobe I identify with.” 

  Kobe Bryant was a massive figure in the world of basketball, clearly influencing and inspiring many athletes and basketball fans the world over. His loss is a tragic one, and it’s important to remember the ways he was a champion for the game, the players, and the fans.