Gilbert Arenas is back at it, spilling cold truths about the NBA. His recent target is the late and great Kobe Bryant and his dreaded mantra: the Mamba Mentality. According to Arenas, everyone in the league hated the Mamba Mentality once upon a time.
Greatness doesn't want to be liked
Arenas appeared on I Am Athlete where he discussed an array of things including the topic of “greatness.” It was inevitable that the conversation drifted to Bryant. The man was a legend, a five-time champion, and the real heir apparent to Michael Jordan. While we celebrate Bryant’s life and his credo, Arenas revealed that those in the league when Bryant was in his prime — especially his teammates — loathed his authoritarian attitude.
"When we're in sports and we're on teams, our natural instinct is to fit in, to be liked," Arenas said. "Greatness doesn't want to be liked. Nobody liked Kobe Bryant. Like it's funny when everybody had a Mamba Mentality. Everybody hated the Mamba Mentality. Y'all hated that he thought selfish like that. Now it's okay."
"That is true," Shady McCoy added. "He started being cool his last year. He started being cool to everybody, smiling. I've never seen Kobe smile."
"Yeah because he was winding down," Agent Zero said. "The competitiveness is out. You know, like, slapping players trying to get a reaction to see who's going to fold, who's not. Telling everybody 'Take my shoes off, you ain't balling like that. Take them off.' That's what greatness does. Greatness wants to challenge everybody. So nobody really likes it when it's in the locker room. That's that arrogant dude."
Arenas referred to the infamous story by Nick Young where he disclosed that Bryant told them to take their Kobes off after a horrendous showing. Young could not believe Bryant’s sudden demands. But he and the other Lakers had no choice but to follow them.
Just like Mike
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Kobe is always mentioned in the same sentence as Michael Jordan. Bryant didn’t just emulate Jordan’s moves. He was also obsessed with winning and would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. Since basketball is a team game, Bryant knew that he had to push certain buttons and cross lines that aren’t meant to be crossed.
In the sports documentary “The Last Dance,” Jordan explained perfectly why he had to be tough on his teammates. It wasn’t a selfish thing, contrary to Arenas’ reading. According to Jordan, he pushed his teammates to the extreme because he wanted them to get a piece of the glory. He wanted them to take part in greatness as well. Bryant, who saw Jordan as his big brother, harbored the same beliefs as well.