Portland Trail Blazers: A ‘Mamba Mentality’ Challenge to Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard, Kobe Bryant, Mamba Mentality, Portland Trail Blazers. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Damian Lillard, Kobe Bryant, Mamba Mentality, Portland Trail Blazers. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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While Kobe Bryant tends to be remembered as the villain in Trail Blazers’ folklore, his competitive spirit and approach to the game is something that anybody who loves the game of basketball can admire, respect, and strive to emulate. Bryant’s famous slogan, “Mamba Mentality” encapsulates what he stood for, not just on the basketball court, but in life as a whole.

"“Mamba Mentality is all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most. It’s the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit. It started just as a hashtag that came to me one day, and it’s grown into something athletes—even non-athletes—embrace as a mindset.” “Hard work outweighs talent – every time. Mamba Mentality is about 4 AM workouts, doing more than the next guy and then trusting in the work you’ve put in when it’s time to perform. Without studying, preparation, or practice, you’re leaving the outcome to fate. I don’t do fate.” – Kobe Bryant"

Back in 2017, the summer after Bryant retired from the NBA, Kobe caused a stir on the morning of August 24th when he issued challenges to various athletes and artists via his Twitter as part of a marketing campaign for his new sneakers. He ended each challenge with the hashtag, #MambaMentality.

In the summer of 2019, Bryant issued three more challenges. For Nikola Jokic, who was beginning to establish himself as one of the most skilled players in the NBA, he challenged to win MVP (a feat Nikola accomplished last season). D’Angelo Russell was challenged to make a second all-star appearance after garnering his first selection in 2018-2019 as a member of the Brooklyn Nets. Lastly, for Paul George, who finished third in MVP voting that season, was challenged to win Defensive Player of the Year.

To celebrate Mamba Day (8/24), I’ve taken it upon myself to issue one of Kobe Bryant’s famous “Mamba Mentality” challenges to Damian Lillard

For all these athletes, I can only imagine the jolt they felt when they were issued a challenge by one of the greatest competitors to ever live. Additionally, none of these challenges were going to be easy to complete—after all, they wouldn’t be “Mamba Mentality” challenges if they were—however they did add some fuel to the competitive fire burning within all of these elite-level athletes (and artist in Kendrick Lamar) to improve and strive to continue to pursue the best versions of themselves.

In that vein, I’ve decided to channel some of the Mamba Mentality and issue a challenge for Damian Lillard. Like Kobe’s challenges, there is no time limit due to the challenge’s difficulty-level. Also, before you continue reading, I’d like to preface this challenge with the obvious fact that I am nowhere near as qualified as Kobe Bryant to be issuing Mamba Mentality challenges to anybody, and definitely not Damian Lillard. Personally, I’m trying to develop the Mamba Mentality in myself, and this article was really written as a tribute to Kobe.

Rest in peace to the Black Mamba.