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Tribute to the Black Mamba

Tribute to the Black Mamba
I know a few things about Kobe Bryant, his kicks and incidentally I also know a thing or two about black mambas. Kobe is perhaps one of the most polarising legends to have ever graced the court, not because of any question around his athletic ability but more because of the venom he spit from his vocal delivery. Simply put he said what was on his mind.

April 13, 2016 has been crowned Mamba Day in honor of the last time Kobe Bryant dons the “purp and yellow”. His exit game against the Utah Jazz marks the end of a 20 year career with the LA Lakers. With 5 championship rings to his name, no man (Shaq et al) can question his pedigree. He laid it all out on the court, dramatic comebacks, majestic pump takes, hate invoking victories (especially when he killed Allen Iverson’s underdog story in the 2001 Finals) and no holds barred criticism of his team mates “under performance” - In his own words, “My best was the best example I could give. I ever asked anyone on the court to do anything I wasn’t willing to do. I could have rested on my reputation. But I did the opposite. If my team mates saw that I wasn’t satisfied, how could they be?”

The black mamba’s characteristics which include nervousness, an aggressiveness when threatened, highly neurotoxic lethal venom and speed parallel Kobe.

My question is; Why didn’t the black mamba immediately strike Adidas’ designers dead when they made the KOBE ONE for him? – Maybe he was a bit nervous about ruining the working relationship between himself and Adidas. Performance aside, and this is my personal opinion, the KOBE ONES were a bit impractical if you didn’t receive a pair every week since they creased quite badly. Many hailed the KOBE ONE as revolutionary but for some the design was a bit to 2050 for the year 1999 (“foampositers” may beg to differ since they seem to utilise the same futuristic design principle) The Adidas KOBE TWO felt like a threat to Kobe’s reputation as a future legend and in true Black Mamba fashion Kobe chose not to wear them in the 2001 – 2002, his final venomous strike. He would subsequently leave Adidas to became a sneaker free agent. During the 2002-2003 season, Kobe used his free agency to raise speculation to which brand he would endorse by wearing different sneakers including Reebok Questions and Air Jordan’s before eventually signing a deal with Nike. 

He wore Huarache’s for the 3 seasons between 2003 and 2005, then thereafter the Nike Zoom Kobe 1 during the 2005-2006 season. Thereafter year after year Nike dropped a new Kobe Zoom series up to Kobe 11s now. Most of them have looked befitting of the man except for the Zoom Kobe III (again, my personal opinion here). All series are now collectors' items. 

It came as no surprise to me when I discovered that Kobe had given himself the nickname Black Mamba as a way to cope with sexual assault allegations against him in 2003. In an interview with Ben McGrath of the New Yorker, Kobe stated he got the idea for the nickname from Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” in which the snake was used as a code name for an aptly named assassin. “I read up on the animal and said, ‘Wow, this is pretty awesome,” Bryant recalled. “This is a perfect description of how I would want my game to be.”

I say let’s salute Kobe, a living legend, as the Mamba finally recoils and slithers away.. 

Post by Vincent Maposa


Comments 3

Comment by ZWB Thursday, April 14 2016
"Good article on Kobe. However, I disagree with your slant on the adidas Kobe 1s. Those are some of the sickest shoes ever made!"
Comment by Kuda Makoni Thursday, April 14 2016
"Legends live forever. A great player indeed..."
Comment by LT Thursday, April 14 2016
"Interesting article. "

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