His impact in OKC started in 2010. When the Thunder made it to the playoffs for the first time. Their opponent was Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
“They're here to play, they're here to win,” Bryant said in reference to that young Thunder team.
The Lakers would go on to beat the Thunder in that series and go on to become NBA champions.
Even though that series happened 10 years ago, he still has a strong impression on current Thunder Players.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully process it,” said Thunder guard Chris Paul, via Instagram.
Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari said in a statement, “ yesterday was a very tough day.”
It was a tough day not just for Gallinari but for every person that Bryant affected: players, coaches, friends and, of course, his family.
At Bryants “Celebration of Life” ceremony former teammate Shaquille O’Neal told the story of how Bryant gained his respect. Some of the players were upset because Bryant wasn’t passing the ball so Shaq said he would talk to him.
Shaq went to Kobe and said “there is no I in team”
which Kobe replied “I know, but there is M-E in that motherf-----.”
Bringing humor and laughter on this sad occasion .
During these times when we are reminded of how short life really is, it is important to take time to reach out to one another, especially those we are close to because none of us really know if this time will be the last time.
Bryant's legacy and where he falls as one of the greatest players of all time may be debated, but his impact cannot be. The “Mamba Mentality” will be something that players strive for and not just players, but every person who is striving to be great and to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
Kobe Bryant has passed on but the “Mamba Mentality” will continue to thrive.
If you would like to make a donation to the families who lost a loved one in this accident, visit https://mambaonthree.org.