THE MAMBA MENTALITY: How Bryant’s Basketball Philosophy on the Pursuit of Excellence can Inspire the Next Generation toward Virtuous Action Open Access

Yeary, Henry (Spring 2022)

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The Mamba Mentality was developed by the late, great basketball legend Kobe Bryant during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. His way of life, work ethic, and frame of mind is evidently expressed through his pursuit of excellence in basketball. By exploring ancient Greek philosophy relating to virtue ethics, I argue for an understanding of Aristotle's work that pertains to the significance of athletic training insofar as it is an activity of practicing practical elements of virtue as a vital counterpart to the theoretical aspects of philosophical virtues. Following my interpretation of Aristotle’s work, I dissect the Mamba Mentality, starting with the five pillars that Bryant articulated himself (Fearlessness, Relentlessness, Passion, Obsessiveness, and Resilience), into 24 different accessible attributes. I discern these specific attributes from Bryant’s words and actions, on and off the basketball court. Of course, the Mamba Mentality represents Bryant’s approach to life as much as it does his approach to basketball. His philosophy on the pursuit of excellence centers upon enjoying the arduous process of continuous self-improvement and helping inspire others to pursue excellence. The focus of his philosophy is intellectually profound and leads one, through proper embodiment, to engender excellent performance in one's own life. In many ways, this work establishes the philosophical relevance of Bryant’s Mamba Mentality and then demonstrates what exactly it is, in the fullest sense. Ultimately, the story of Kobe Bryant and his way of life is about the transformation of self and of others. Perhaps the contemporary models of education in the west fail to incorporate athletic training and, in doing so, restrict the youth's development to a purely theoretical realm. This thesis argues that the next generation would benefit greatly from employing tactics to further enhance the practical application of such knowledge and instilling aspects of the Mamba Mentality in the youth.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Meet Kobe Bryant 1

   A Noble End

       The Philosophy of an Athlete

       Affinity with Virtue Ethics

       Thesis Roadmap

       My Museum of Sources

1 Athletics in Ancient Greece 11

       Ancient Gymnasia

       The Relevance of Athletics in Aristotle’s Ethics

       Section Summary

2 Why The Mamba Mentality? 27

       Basketball and Kobe Bryant

       Methodology of Research

       Attributes Symbolize Realizations of the Mamba Mentality

3 The Quality of Fearlessness 40

         Chase Ambitious Goals With Courage

         Do Not Let Fear Inhibit Action

         “Failure” is an Illusion

         Cultivate True Self-Confidence & Self-Assurance

         Remain Unfazed by Discomfort

4 The Quality of Relentlessness 57

         Invest in Self-Discipline

         Think Long-Term

         Self-Assess, Diagnose, & Address

         Rest at the End, Not in the Middle

          Know Your Priorities

5 The Quality of Passion 77

          Purpose is a Reservoir of Intrinsic Motivation

          Love the Process

          Make Prudent Sacrifices

          Inspire Others

          Help the Young Improve

6 The Quality of Obsessiveness 93

          Study, Practice, Perform, Repeat

          Feed Curiosity

          Pay Attention to the Details

          Refine Mental Endurance, Focus

          Find Your Flow-State

7 The Quality of Resilience 110

          Mental Toughness is about Striking a Balance

          Use Negative Experiences as Motivation

          Bounce Back and Endure

          Be a Transformational Leader in Your Community

8 Philosophy as A Way of Life 128


       The Implications of Bryant’s Five Pillars

       On the Education Process

Appendix A: Images of Architecture 136

Appendix B: Images of Kobe Bryant 143

Glossary 151

Works Cited 152

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