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Mamba Mentality takes on added meaning

I was saving my first post of 2020 for something updated. Something more contemporary, along with a fresh look to the website. I wanted the new(ish) page to do more than call out bad PR. I would provide more examples of how positive, proactive public relations helps businesses and individuals move forward. How it can help hard-working, creative minds reflect a “Mamba Mentality” of sorts.

Life — and death — however, don’t wait for a website designer to make a page pretty.

Such is the last two days during which many were stopped cold in their tracks when we read about NBA and Los Angeles Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant’s death, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna (GiGi) and seven others in a horrific helicopter crash: Alyssa Altobelli, GiGi Bryant’s basketball teammate; Alyssa’s father, John Altobelli, baseball coach at Orange Coast College; Alyssa’s mother, Keri Altobelli; Christina Mauser, a basketball coach at Harbor Day School, where Gigi Bryant attended; Payton Chester, a middle-school student; Sarah Chester, Payton’s mother; Ara Zobayan, the pilot.

I’ve read so many accounts that reflect the shock of Bryant’s loss around the world. I was about to leave for an appointment when I read the TMZ tweet that we hoped wasn’t true. Alas, before I walked out the door I saw other sources reporting the same. The 18-time NBA All-Star who starred on five national title and two Olympic gold medal teams was gone. At 41. I continue to say it’s surreal to talk about the man who made basketball bigger than life because of his work ethic on the court and charisma and brilliance off of it. We had yet to see the spectacular things that would come from his life’s encore. He’d only retired from the NBA in 2016.

About the PR part — Kobe used it, intentionally or not. As USA Today’s Nancy Armour reminded us, Bryant, like the rest of us, was flawed, noted in a lawsuit related to a 2003 sexual assault. While he said he believed the encounter to be consensual, many when talking about his record-breaking basketball career, followed it with an “although …” We could speculate about who helped Bryant regain respect — a public relations specialist, his agent, or did he simply put his head down and focus on being the best basketball player who ever lived? No matter the source — he did the latter and more. Along with his wife Vanessa, Kobe welcomed four daughters into the world who we’d see at his side during Lakers warmups and later, at other sporting events. He coached his daughter in the game he loved, In fact, all aboard the chopper were en route to a basketball game at his Mamba Sports Academy where he would coach GiGi and her team.

There are other public relations parts to this story including how people used social media for hours afterward, but like many who felt like we knew him — certainly those who did — we still feel like we left a movie theater after a film with a horribly sad ending.

We fans will say we were were cheated from watching Kobe grow further and create history in things other than basketball. We’ll say he could have been the voice and energy to continue to propel women’s sports forward with GiGi and her sisters at his side. Instead, we mourn the 41-year-old superstar. We mourn for his wife and surviving children. We mourn for the families that lost loved ones in the crash.

There is time to examine the rest. For now we hope our love travels to those who hurt. We’d be good to do as Kobe showed us — put our heads down and work like hell to make tomorrow good and the day after, better than that. Crush it. You know — the Mamba mentality.

©Gail Sideman, 2020


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