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How I Play by Kobe Bryant

What is the Book About?

The Mamba Mentality gives you full detail on how Kobe Bryant mastered the game and it teaches you how to achieve the legendary mindset. Mamba never accepted losing as an option and was known for his laser-sharp focus, exacting preparation, diligent attention to details, and extreme competitiveness.

The book is split into three parts. The first part is a collection of letters from Bryant’s teammate Pau Gasol and long-time coach Phil Jackson.

The second part, titled Process, details Bryant’s pre and post-game rituals, different events throughout his career, how he felt about designing his signature shoe and much more that wore him down both physically and mentally during his 20 season tenure in the NBA.

Bryant goes on to tell stories about his relationship playing on the USA Olympic team with Coach Mike Krzyzewski, and how if he had gone to college, he would’ve gone to Duke.

The third part, Craft, is all about how he would play, whether it’s how he was feeling, or who he was playing, no matter what, Kobe knew he couldn’t play the same way every game.

Another important point to mention is the fact that the book is full of different pictures of Kobe throughout his career taken by Hall of Fame photographer Andrew D. Bernstein.

free summary of The Mamba Mentality by Kobe Bryant on StoryShots

About the Author

Kobe Bryant is one of the most accomplished and celebrated athletes of all time. Over the course of his twenty-year career—all played with the Los Angeles Lakers—he won five NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals, eighteen All-Star selections, and four All-Star Game MVP awards, among many other achievements.

Bryant retired in 2016 and died on January 26, 2020, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, were also killed.

Andrew D. Bernstein’s photography has appeared in thousands of newspapers and on magazine covers worldwide. Bernstein is the long-time official photographer for the Los Angeles Lakers and the senior photographer for the NBA.

He is the 2018 recipient of the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame. He regularly appears on ESPN’s SportsCenter and other national television and radio programs.

Summary of The Mamba Mentality

Kobe Bryant was a professional basketball player that played for the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA. He entered the NBA directly from high school and won five NBA championships.

Kobe dwelled on his mentality going into and out of games, his routines, his match-ups and how he used his time.

Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, and the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP). Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, he led the NBA in scoring during two seasons, ranks fourth on the league’s all-time regular-season scoring, and ranks fourth on the all-time postseason scoring list.

Biography of Kobe Bryant

Bryant was the son of former NBA player Joe Bryant and was the first guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons.

He attended Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, where he was recognized as the top high-school basketball player in the country.

“I started lifting weights at 17, when I got to the NBA. Nothing fancy, just basic, time-tested lifting methods that focused on strengthening one group of muscles at a time. Over the meat of my career, whether we were in season or it was summer, I would lift for 90 minutes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. When I say lift, I mean heavy, hard, can’t-feel-your-arms type of lift. After that, I would go into the gym and shoot. Over the years, my routine might have changed some but my philosophy never did.”

– Kobe Bryant

Upon graduation, he declared for the 1996 NBA draft and was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick; the Hornets then traded him to the Lakers.

As a rookie, Bryant earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan favorite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, and he was named an All-Star by his second season.

After the Lakers lost the 2004 NBA Finals, O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat and Bryant became the cornerstone of the Lakers. He led the NBA in scoring during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons.

In 2006, he scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second-most points scored in a single game in league history behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962. Bryant was named the regular season’s MVP in 2008.

After the Lakers lost in the 2008 NBA Finals, Bryant led the team to two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010, earning the Finals MVP Award on both occasions. He continued to be among the top players in the league through 2013 when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon at age 34. He recovered but suffered season-ending injuries to his knee and shoulder in the following two seasons. Citing his physical decline, Bryant retired after the 2015–16 season.

At 34 years and 104 days of age, Bryant became the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points. He became the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history on February 1, 2010, when he surpassed Jerry West.

His four All-Star MVP Awards are tied with Bob Pettit for the most in NBA history. At the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, he won two gold medals as a member of the U.S. national team.

The Mamba Mentality

Initially, Kobe Bryant thought the phrase “Mamba Mentality” was just a catchy hashtag that he’d start on Twitter. Something witty and memorable. But it took off from there and came to symbolize much more.

The mindset isn’t about seeking a result—it’s more about the process of getting to that result. It’s about the journey and the approach. Kobe calls it “way of life”.

“Whether I hear an elite college or NBA player or a Fortune 500 CEO reference the #MambaMentality, I find it very meaningful. When I see people talk about finding inspiration in it, it makes all of my hard work, all of the sweat, all of the 3 AM wakeups feel worth it. That’s why I put together this book. All these pages incorporate lessons—not just lessons on basketball, but also on the Mamba Mentality.”

– Kobe Bryant

Kobe’s Routine

As he mentioned in the book, Kobe never thought about hid daily preparation. His routine was grueling. It involved early mornings and late nights. It involved stretching, lifting, training, hooping, recovery, and film study.

For that reason, a lot of players pare down their lifting and training during the season. They try to conserve their energy. He found that this work might be strenuous on the day-to-day, but it left him stronger and more prepared during the dog days of the season and the playoffs.

“My routine changed over time. My approach didn’t.”

– Kobe Bryant

He always tried to train and prepare intelligently, but as he got older, his pre- and post-game routine evolved.

“When you’re younger, you work on explosive things and as you get older your focus shifts to preventive measures. The only aspect that can’t change, though, is that obsession. You have to enter every activity, every single time, with a want and need to do it to the best of your ability.”

– Kobe Bryant

Time Management

Kobe Bryant mentioned that in order to be successful you have to balance your life with your family and what is going to make you successful, and in order to do that, you have to make sacrifices.

Kobe sacrificed his sleep to be successful, going to the gym early before his wife and kids wake up and going to the gym late after his wife and kids are already in bed.

He wrote that his pre-performance routines varied on how his body was feeling a given day, if he was tired, he’d nap, if he felt that he needed to shoot more, he’d shoot more and so on. It also varied on who he was going up against and how the game would be played out.

Kobe’s Obstacles

Towards the end of Kobe’s career, he was suffering from a build-up of injuries, he tore his Achilles, broke and dislocated his fingers multiple times, fractured his knee multiple times, and had countless surgeries.

But how did Kobe Bryant overcome these obstacles? He explained that he did not care if there was pain, he said the pain is bearable, he just didn’t want the injury to get worse. If only the pain got worse then he’d fight through the pain.

Kobe was known for his “Mamba Mentality”, to summarize what it is he mentioned it was a “No lose” zone, where the only possible outcome for him is winning, and he will do whatever it takes to do just that.

Distraction Control

To be as great as Kobe you need to have the confidence that he had, the confidence to take those crazy circus shots in the middle of a game. Kobe mentioned that he practiced making these crazy shots until they weren’t crazy for him anymore.

Kobe explained that his life was basketball, his mind was only focused on basketball, he mentioned being great, and winning a championship is the greatest joy in life.


JUNE 26, 1996: Bryant is selected 13th overall in the NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets. As part of a pre-agreed deal, his rights are traded to the Los Angeles Lakers five days later.

NOVEMBER 3, 1996: At 18 years and 72 days, Bryant becomes at the time the youngest player ever to play in an NBA game.

FEBRUARY 8, 1998: Voted in by fans, Bryant becomes the youngest All-Star in league history and scores a team-high 18 points for the Western Conference.

JUNE 14, 2000: Returning from an ankle injury suffered in Game 2 of the Finals, Kobe hits three clutch shots in Game 4, including the go-ahead putback layup to seal an overtime win over the Pacers and a 3–1 series lead. Bryant wins his first championship five days later.

2001: The Lakers beat the Philadelphia 76ers in five games for a second straight title.

2002: L.A. returns to the Finals and completes a three-peat with a clean sweep of the New Jersey Nets.

FEBRUARY 2003: Bryant averages 40.6 points per game for the month of February.

2004: The Lakers return to the Finals for the fourth time in five years, but fall to the Pistons in five games.

JANUARY 22, 2006: Bryant scores a career-high 81 points in a win over the Toronto Raptors.

2008: Bryant is named league MVP after leading the Lakers to the best record in the West, battling through a serious finger injury in his shooting hand. He becomes the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer in the process. The Lakers fall to the Celtics in the Finals in six games.

JUNE 2008: Bryant and Team USA’s “Redeem Team” secure a gold medal in Beijing.

2009: The Lakers roll to another NBA championship in five games against the Orlando Magic. Bryant is named Finals MVP.

2010: At the end of an epic series, Bryant pockets his fifth championship and second Finals MVP award, getting revenge over the Celtics and helping the Lakers back from a 13-point second-half deficit in Game 7 to seal the title.

APRIL 12, 2013: Bryant tears his Achilles tendon in a game against the Warriors.

DECEMBER 14, 2014: Bryant takes his place as the NBA’s third all-time leading scorer, surpassing Michael Jordan’s 32,292-point mark.

NOVEMBER 29, 2015: Kobe announces his forthcoming retirement at the end of the season.

APRIL 13, 2016: In the final game of his career, Bryant scores a remarkable 60 points on the road in Utah, including 23 fourth-quarter points to ice a five-point win over the Jazz.

The Mamba Mentality Quotes

“If you really want to be great at something, you have to truly care about it. If you want to be great in a particular area, you have to obsess over it. A lot of people say they want to be great, but they’re not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve greatness. They have other concerns, whether important or not, and they spread themselves out. That’s totally fine. After all, greatness is not for everybody.”

– Kobe Bryant

“One of the main takeaways was that you have to work hard in the dark to shine in the light. Meaning: It takes a lot of work to be successful, and people will celebrate that success, will celebrate that flash and”

– Kobe Bryant

“The message was that if you want to win championships, you have to let people focus on what they do best while you focus on what you do best. For him, that was rebounding, running the floor, and blocking shots.” 

– Kobe Bryant

“Good coaches, however, teach you how to think and arm you with the fundamental tools necessary to execute properly.” 

– Kobe Bryant

“A lot of people say they want to be great, but they’re not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve greatness. They have other concerns, whether important or not, and they spread themselves out. That’s totally fine. After all, greatness is not for everybody.” 

– Kobe Bryant

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Adapted from George Fedorchuk and Ruben Correa Presentations, Hopkins RP and Wikipedia

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