Back in early 2020, Larry Nance Jr. spoke about the godly passion Kobe Bryant possessed for the game. The Cavaliers forward also spoke about the valuable lessons he learnt from the Black Mamba.
Kobe Bryant was amongst the greatest sporting icons the world has ever witnessed. After an illustrious 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Black Mamba really reached the pinnacle of the game.
His sheer competitive spirit and the crazy passion for being the best version of himself at any given time was what set him apart from his opponents. Bean dedicated uncountable hours in the gym to perfect his craft, helping him be one of the most accomplished players of all time.
For several young athletes who grew up watching Bryant’s unreal display of basketball, Kobe was more than a role model. He was someone who youngsters aspired and crafted their game to be like. And Larry Nance Jr was one of those youngsters who were among the biggest Kobe Bryant lovers there could be.
Kobe was really a student of the game. And not only did Kobe aim to perfect his craft, he even looked out for his competitors and young teammates by helping them improve their game. Nance Jr was one of the lucky players in today’s league who got a chance to share the same locker room as Bryant.
Larry Nance Jr reveals how Kobe Bryant helped him shape his game
In an interview the day after Kobe’s tragic passing, Nance spoke highly about his “role model” while even narrating a few of the 18-time All-Star’s anecdotes displaying Kobe’s famous “Mamba Mentality” ideology.
“Just watching him you could see his passion for the game,” Nance said. “His passion for wanting to learn. His thirst for knowledge was really impressive and one of the biggest things that stood out for me.”
“That’s who I learned to play the pick-and-roll from,” Nance said. “He used to tell me all the time about how him and Pau (Gasol) would try to get specific actions. And I’d try to mimic them. So many things we learned I still use to this day.”
“We didn’t know any better, but of course we thought we knew the world,” Nance said. “We’d be after practice thinking we’re working hard and then look right next to us and it was 20th-year Kobe going just as hard if not harder than us. It was like ‘Man, I’m 21 and this guy is over here doing this at age 37 or whatever?’”
“He was just such a huge part of my story as a basketball player and as a person,” Nance said. “Just coming to this league and having him as a veteran and a role model and an influence, I can’t even begin to do it justice.”
“There was nothing that embodied that more than getting to see him after practice or after a game. Sitting in his locker with a look on his face like ‘Man, I’m getting old,’ with ice bags all the way up and down his body. But sure enough, he’d be back out there with us tomorrow and getting after it. Mamba mentality, I wish more people got to see it up close and see it in person.”
Clearly, there cannot be any other athlete quite like the Mamba.