By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
Photo by: Lauren Barksdale
The impact of Kobe Bryant’s performance in the sport of basketball reached worldwide impact as he was the premier player in the NBA from 1996 to 2016 all with the Los Angeles Lakers. Many, if not all, basketball players have modeled their careers to match Bryant’s. He was also a huge supporter of the women sports’, especially in basketball.
Bryant’s life impacted many people in the sport of basketball including South Alabama Jaguars women’s basketball forward Kennedi Centers. Like many others, Centers was devastated on the passing of Bryant, his daughter, and seven others.
When asked about Bryant on her basketball career, Centers responded, “It’s just his mentality and the way he came after the game and just pushed himself to be the best he could possibly be. Just seeing him dominate, it inspired me to be that same type of dominator on the court with anything I did and anything I pursued just cause it’s very hard to have that mentality and to keep going when you have setbacks and you have letdowns that never let anything stop him. It really inspired me to keep pushing through injuries and setbacks. Just his presence on and off the court is just amazing to me how he can inspire so many people around the world.”
As a basketball player and an idolizer of Kobe Bryant, Centers has been a follower of the Mamba Mentality. This philosophy is the idea of pushing roadblocks and pushing to the limits both physically and mentally.
When asked what the Mamba Mentality means to her, Center said, “I think of just going as hard as you can and putting your all into something no matter what the circumstances are, no matter what’s in your way, the obstacles because there’s always somebody out there working and there’s always someone out there trying to work harder than you.”
When the news of Kobe Bryant was announced by TMZ, many including, Centers thought the news was fake. As the news was official, many were heartbroken to learn that his oldest daughter and her teammates were also ones that perished. Centers mentioned that she was heavily saddened at the shocking passing of Gianna Bryant, who was playing in her father’s basketball academy teams and tournaments to take the mantle of the name.
Centers said of Gianna, “She had such a bright future, better than so many players I know at her age. I know she lived for the game and she had the Mamba Mentality like it was built into her. It’s sad to see her go because I know she was going to do great things, go into the WNBA, and just dominate to be unstoppable just like her father.”
Kobe’s passion and love for the game went beyond his performance on the court. He was very charitable during and after his playing career in the NBA. In 2018, he was the first former professional athlete and the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film entitled Dear Basketball. He is also an author and was a coach for his daughter’s basketball team in the Mamba Lady Mavericks.
His love for the game knew no demographics including gender as he was a strong advocate for women in the sport of Basketball and the WNBA. When asked about his high support of the WNBA and women’s sports in general, she responded, “It’s just, I feel like his appreciation for the game was higher than a lot of people in the game. I know it’s more exciting to see guys jumping all over the place and dunking the ball, but women’s basketball is more of a fundamental game, it takes more Basketball IQ. To have his support in something is very much looked over, it just made me so happy to know that there is somebody out there, somebody great, watching women’s’ sport and watching women’s basketball and seeing the greatness within us.”
Centers mentioned that she plays her playstyle with the physicality and mentality of Bryant. One example of her copying Kobe’s playing ability is his turnaround fadeaway shots that are difficult to completely replicate.
Very rarely does a player like Kobe Bryant make such a big significance in the world of sports and outside of sports. Bryant wasn’t a player who did it overnight, he had to develop himself to that high-established level. Kennedi Centers is hoping to make that significant impact with the Women’s Jaguars basketball as they continue Sun Belt conference play, the University of South Alabama, and for women’s sports in general.
Very rarely does a player like Kobe Bryant make such a big significance in the world of sports and outside of sports. Bryant wasn’t a player who did it overnight, he had to develop himself to that high-established level. Savannah Jones is hoping to make that significant impact with the Women’s Jaguars basketball as they continue Sun Belt conference play, the University of South Alabama, and for women’s sports in general.