Kobe Bryant’s ‘Mamba Mentality’ is Propelling Rockets’ Christian Wood to NBA Stardom

Published 01/16/2021, 6:30 AM EST
Kobe Bryant of USA during the Mens Basketball Preliminary Round, Group A match between USA and Tunisia as part of the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games at the Basketball Arena, Olympic Park, London, England, UK on August 31st, 2012. Photo: Gary Prior/Visionhaus (Photo by Ben Radford/Corbis via Getty Images)


Your team is trailing by two points with just three seconds to go on the shot clock, and the coach calls a timeout. Now in that situation, if we asked you to pick one player to take that final shot, who would you pick? For us, it is as clear as a day – Kobe Bryant is taking the potential game-winner.

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But why Kobe Bryant? Because the LA Lakers legend is tailor-made to perform in the clutch and step up in the big moments. But what propels him to separate himself from the others in crunch-time situations? It is the sniper-like ‘Mamba Mentality’ that he possesses.

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So, players of today and tomorrow want to be like him; they wish to gain a mental edge over their opponents, just like Kobe. Apparently, this is what is propelling Houston Rockets‘ Christian Wood to have a breakout season.

Wood on the influence of Kobe Bryant

Growing up, Bryant was the player that Wood admired the most. After leading the Rockets past the San Antonio Spurs with 27 points and 3 blocks, a reporter asked him if Kobe’s mamba mentality was indeed something that motivated him, to which he replied:

“That’s definitely something that I live by, you know. Since even before, you know, Kobe’s passing, it’s something that I just carry myself that way. Kobe’s always been my favorite player, just growing up he’s my first pair of basketball shoes that I’ve ever had.”

Dec 28, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Houston Rockets forward Christian Wood (35) shoots the ball in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The center has overcome adversity along the way after going undrafted in 2015. So, he took inspiration from Bryant to get better recognition from the NBA community.

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“So just having that mentality. And then you know, I always have a chip on my shoulder for being waived and being undrafted. You know guys not knowing who I am. Just you know, going out there to prove everybody wrong that’s my mindset,” said Wood.

Dec 28, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Houston Rockets forward Christian Wood (35) reacts following a three point basket made in the first quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The former Piston is certainly shaping up as a trade steal. Fans swept Wood’s signing under the rug, but so far he’s averaging 23.1 points and 10.1 rebounds.

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Moreover, he’s been a shining light throughout the bleak period of James Harden‘s trade saga for the Rockets. So, long may he keep preaching Kobe, and his excellent form shall continue.

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Bharat Aggarwal

757 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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