Kobe Bryant was nicknamed the ‘Black Mamba’ for a reason, and so when Gilbert Arenas tried to call himself the ‘Black Mongoose’ he learnt his lesson.
Gilbert Arenas was a bona-fide superstar for the Washington Wizards, especially from 2004 to 2007. He was a bucket getter in every sense of the phrase.
In those years, Arenas made the NBA All Star game every year, averaging 25.5, 29.3 and 28.4 points per game. He quickly became one of the best scorers in the league earning the nicknames ‘No-Chill Gil’, ‘Agent Zero’, or ‘Sub Zero.’
During that time Kobe Bryant was also entering the prime of his years, starting to form his own identity as an NBA superstar without the benefit of an NBA legend alongside him in Shaquille O’Neal.
Kobe Bryant vs. Gilbert Arenas was a truly intense matchup 🔥 pic.twitter.com/qy7w7v1H5C
— Wizards Nation (@WizardsNationCP) January 27, 2021
During one particular matchup Gilbert went off against the Lakers, dropping a cold 60 piece, after which he decided it’d be a good idea to trash talk Kobe.
Kobe Bryant Let Gilbert Arenas Know He Messed Up By Trash Talking Him
What exactly was Agent Zero saying after that game with Kobe? Brendan Haywood, Arenas’ teammate on the Wizards recalls it as so:
“Once [Arenas] scored 60, Gil got a little mouthy. We’re on the team plane, and Caron Butler was talking to Kobe, and Gil starts talking trash to Kobe. He tells Kobe, ‘If you the Black Mamba, then my new nickname is the Black Mongoose.’”
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 17, 2014
The ‘Black Mongoose’ nickname probably stems from the fact that mongooses are known to fight against snakes, and while it seems like a harmless, it definitely wasn’t, and Kobe Bryant did not forget about it the next time the Lakers and Wizards played.
Haywood recalled that Kobe singled out Gilbert Arenas before the game, walking up to him and confidently making sure he knew just who he had come after.
“Kobe said, ‘Keep that same energy when [I] come to D.C.’ I thought Kobe forgot. Two months later, I’m not even thinking about it, I put my hand out, [Kobe] walked right past me. He did not shake anybody’s hand, he walked up to Gil, slapped him on his butt, and said, ‘Remember you asked for this, and make sure you guard me the way I’m gonna guard you.’ He gave us 45, the meanest points I’ve ever seen. He pulled the 360 dunk with the airplane, he did everything.”
Haywood did overhype Kobe’s performance a bit as he scored 39 that day not 45, but you could tell that he was out for revenge. The Lakers would win 118-102 and Kobe made sure Gilbert ate his words. Arenas did show up, however, scoring 37 points of his own, but Kobe definitely stole the show.