During his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant was one of the most polarizing people in professional sports. But whether you loved him or hated him, you couldn’t deny Bryant’s success at the highest level of basketball. In addition to his NBA MVP award and five NBA championships, Bryant helped lead Team USA to two gold medals in 2008 and 2012.
Bryant was also an 18-time NBA All-Star, second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (LeBron James has the most active players, with 16 All-Star appearances). The NBA will no doubt mourn Bryant during the first All-Star weekend since his untimely and shocking death, but Bryant’s legacy will live on.
Here are eight of the superstar’s best quotes, which can give a glimpse into his mindset and help you share some of his Mamba mentality.
About his relationship with death
“You can’t have life without death. You can’t have light without the dark. So it’s an acceptance of that. When it came time to decide whether to retire, [it was] really an acceptance of that mortality that all athletes face. And if you fight against it, you will always have that inner struggle within you. … So … I’m comfortable with it.” – CBSNov, 2016
On failing in the playoffs during his rookie season
“As a young player you often don’t see how something like that and such a situation can ultimately pay off. But if you use it to propel you and use it to motivate you and be where I am now, you can look back on it with fond memories.” – Daily newsJanuary, 2016
About his leadership style
“I liked challenging people and making them uncomfortable. That leads to introspection and that leads to improvement. You could say I challenged people to be their best selves.” – The Mamba Mindset: How I Play2018
“I will choose whether your goals for the coming season are a compromise where I want to be in 20 years.
“If they don’t, have fun hunting. But if they do…
“I’ll hunt you obsessively. It’s only natural.’ – Players Tribute per Daily newsApril, 2017
“Friends hang from time to time. Banners hang forever.” – ESPNJune, 2015
When you stop playing basketball
“It doesn’t matter what I do next
“I will always be that child
“With the rolled up socks
“Trash can in the corner
“:05 seconds on the clock
“Ball in my hands.
“5…4…3…2…1” – Best Basketball via Players TributeNovember, 2015