Mamba Mentality: A close encounter with Kobe Bryant

He’s a former NBA league MVP. A five-time NBA champion. A two-time Olympic gold medallist. A four-time NBA All-Star MVP. A two-time NBA scoring champion. A perennial member of the league’s Mythical and All-Defensive teams.

He has made countless game-winners in regular seasons and even more clutch shots in the playoffs. And he’s been considered by many as the “Mount Rushmore” of the world’s grandest basketball stage.

For 20 long years of remarkable victories, painful losses and historic feats, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant proved why he’s a true winner.

And for more than 20 minutes of intense training, I experienced and understood what “Mamba Mentality” is all about.

On one fine Saturday morning inside the Kerry Sports Manila court at the Shangri-La-The Fort in Bonifacio Global City, 12 pre-selected mediamen from the country’s top dailies, online sports sites and TV stations had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to undergo a training session conducted by Bryant, 37, himself.

“So are you guys ready?” Bryant, blurted out as he made his way into the locker room, catching us, participants, off-guard, most of us even left starstruck.

“Don’t kill us Kobe,” pleaded one reporter.

“You know I won’t do that,” Bryant replied with a smile.

After an exchange of high-fives and pleasantries, Bryant called us out back to the hardwood and even gave them some words of wisdom.

“If you want to do exceptional things, you have to train exceptionally,” he said, with all eyes glued on him.

“Even you guys, to become exceptional writers, you have to write stories that are exceptional,” he continued.

Known as one of the most hardworking talents—on and off the court, Bryant added: “If everyone can do what you do, then it’s not worth fucking doing.”


jerome lagunzad

After his inspiring speech, Bryant wasted no little time in getting things rolling with an eight-minute running routine—far from his usual 20-minute pre-game personal session—a combination of jogging, lateral drills on the baseline, back-pedalling on the sideline and another lateral movement on the baseline.

“Let’s go guys! Close the gap,” he repeatedly urged, sensing some of us are already running out of gas.

“Come in guys! You can do it!” Bryant said in between claps, trying his best to inspire, with most of us already huffing and puffing.

As the buzzer sounder, Bryant applauded the group, his head nodding, as he gathered us around the center court.

“I do that for 20 minutes before I start shooting,” he said.

Then Bryant bid farewell and proceeded to his next activity, leaving the group to Nike’s local training coach, Xavy Nunag of Ateneo and Meralco Bolts.

After rehydrating with a quick water break, we continued with the “Kobe 8s” routine composed of eight full court sprints, eight push-ups, eight climbing drills and eight crunches.

“Parang mamamatay ako sa ginawa natin,” blurted out one participant, sweating profusely.

journalists in kobe workout

Good thing, the group survived the session and, even with their bodies aching, put on record their experience with a usual groupie shot. – By Jerome Lagunzad

Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports