SAN ANTONIO – The “Mamba Mentality.” It’s a phrase that many current NBA players echo as not only a nod to the late Kobe Bryant, but also what it takes to succeed in the game and in life.
It’s been a year since Bryant his daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash in California.
But Bryant’s legacy still weighs heavily on the NBA community and many around the world.
Spurs guard and Compton, California native DeMar DeRozan recently reflected on Bryant’s death.
“It’s still surreal, still something that touches everybody,” DeRozan said. “I still can’t believe the situation that happened with everybody in that tragedy. It just sucks. It’s just crazy how time goes by when you realize that it’s been a year. It’s just crazy.”
SoCal and Compton native DeMar DeRozan recently reflected on Kobe Bryant and his iconic 81-point game.— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) January 26, 2021
'Still surreal, still something that touches everybody. I still can't believe the situation that happened with everybody in that tragedy.' #Spurs #MambaForever #MambaMentality pic.twitter.com/8gxvhMVbiV
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst spoke about the lasting impression Bryant left on not only DeRozan but players in the NBA who grew up during the Kobe era.
Windhorst said DeRozan modeled much of his game to be similar to Bryant’s.
But it’s not just DeRozan’s generation of players who grew up idolizing Kobe.
For many, Kobe Bryant was the Michael Jordan of their time.
Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray, a West Coast and Seattle native, recently discussed having a “mamba mentality” mindset to return from an ankle injury he suffered on Friday against Dallas.
“I watched a lot of Kobe stuff and thought what would Kobe do? It’s just an ankle sprain,” Murray said after getting a triple-double in Sunday’s win over Washington. “I amped up with my treatment just so I can get back and help my team.”
“All of us know what a great player he was, but he went beyond great playing,” Popovich said last year. “He was a competitor that goes unmatched, and that’s what made him as a player so attractive to everybody, that focus, that competitiveness, that will to win.”
Popovich said the league and fans felt “a deep sense of loss for what he meant to all of us in so many ways, and so many millions of people loved him for so many different reasons. It’s just a tragic thing. There are no words that can describe how everybody feels.”
A year later, it’s still hard to describe the loss of Bryant and other victims of the crash.
KB 💜 🙏🏽 8 24— Jordan Clarkson (@JordanClarksons) January 26, 2021
24 Forever🕊🙏🏽— Devin Vassell (@Yvngdevo) January 26, 2021
An emotional DeMar DeRozan on Kobe Bryant: 'Words can’t explain it. What he meant to the game. The inspiration he brought to the world. Not just that, his daughter, I'm a father. I can't imagine something like that happening. It's a very sad day." (via @spurs) #NBA #RIPBlackMamba pic.twitter.com/iuG6YkgGoA— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) January 27, 2020
📹Kobe Bryant's final presser in San Antonio where he discussed his tribute video from #Spurs and love from SA fans. Kobe talks LA-SA battles over years...'That's what makes the journey we've both been on, so beautiful.' (Video via @adamthephotog) #KSATsports #KSATnews #RIPKobe pic.twitter.com/9oakRk9y03— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) January 27, 2020