Kobe Bryant died tragically in a helicopter crash in January 2020, but he left behind a weatlh of inspirational quotes for all those basketball players and fans who want to model some part of their lives after one of the greatest ever to play the game. So, the Mamba may be gone, but the Mamba Mentality will live on forever through the words Bryant spoke.
As one of the most famous athletes on the planet, Bryant was asked in magazine and television interviews to give his opinions and thoughts on many different topics, and he always spoke candidly, whether he was talking about learning from Michael Jordan, winning more championships than Shaquille O'Neal, or beating LeBron James in a one-on-one game. Bryant always had the perfect words for a moment.
So check out this list of the best Kobe Bryant quotes, and vote up the ones you find most motivational. Help choose the quotes that inspire you, and remind you why Kobe was a basketball player so many fans loved and so many competitors respected.
On Not Fearing Failure
"I've practiced and practiced and played so many times. There's nothing truly to be afraid of, when you think about it ... Because I've failed before, and I woke up the next morning, and I'm OK."
- Bryant was asked in 2014 about breaking the record for most missed shots in NBA history and whether he has ever been afraid during a game.
On It Being Just Another Shot
"We psych ourselves up too much. Like if you try to talk yourself into, ‘Oh, this is a big moment, this is a big shot,’ you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself. You shot that shot hundreds and thousands of times. Just shoot another one.”
- Bryant was asked about how a big shot is just another shot in 2018.
On The Realities Of Injuries
“Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it’s all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back, the game back, THAT play back. But reality gives nothing back and nor should you.”
- Bryant in an Instagram post referring to the Gordon Hayward's season-ending injury in 2017.
On His Philosophy
"The examples are endless but my philosophy is simple. Once I knew my seed, I was able to discover my muse and my purpose for being was crystal clear."
- Bryant on his singular focus and what drives him.
On The Work Being The Dream
“Those times when you get up early and you work hard, those times when you stay up late and you work hard, those times when you don’t feel like working, you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream. That’s the dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. And if you guys can understand that, then what you’ll see happen is you won’t accomplish your dreams, your dreams won’t come true; something greater will.”
- Bryant during his retirement speech in 2016 about how the journey being the dream will make the destination even greater.
On His Scope Of Learning
"The odd thing is that I wound up learning more about the world around me by having a singular focus inside of me."
- Bryant on how his view of the world was developed by his life's singular focus on basketball.
On What He Took From Education
"This meant that geometry class was viewed as understanding the angles of the game. History class taught me different forms of leadership. Through Shakespeare, I learned about the nature of mankind. From The Iliad, I began to question at the age of 12 if I identified with the hero Hector or Achilles. Taking tests helped me steady my pulse and think clearly under duress."
- Bryant explaining examples of how he used any form of education to make himself a better basketball player.
On Basketball Being His Muse
"Basketball is the seed of my muse. At the age of 6, the game became part of my nature. Everything I saw, heard, read, or felt was viewed through the lens of growing as a basketball player. This perspective makes me curious about everything, makes everything interesting, and means that life is a living library where all I need to do is pay attention."
- Bryant on everything he learned in life was through the lens of basketball.
On His Friendship
"I have friends. But being a 'great friend' is something I will never be. I can be a good friend. But not a great friend. A great friend will call you every day and remember your birthday. I’ll get so wrapped up in my sh-t, I’ll never remember that stuff."
- Bryant on being so driven by greatness that normal friendships are difficult.
On How Aware He Is Of Himself
“I know who I am.”
- Bryant in a 2015 interview with GQ, discussing what people's opinion of him.
On His Marriage
“We still fight, just like every married couple. But you know, my reputation as an athlete is that I’m extremely determined, and that I will work my a-- off. How could I do that in my professional life if I wasn’t like that in my personal life, when it affects my kids? It wouldn’t make any sense.”
- Bryant on how he uses the same focus and determination on the court as he does when it comes to making his marriage work.
On Jordan Comparisons
"I don't want to be the next Michael Jordan, I only want to be Kobe Bryant."
- Bryant early in his career on the Michael Jordan comparisons.
On Changing Over Time
“Because I am. That’s just the maturation. That’s 17 years of seeing everything the game can dish out. I’ve seen it all before. There’s no need to get too crazy or bent out of shape. There are still challenges every day. But I’m still having fun. I was born to play this game. I still love it.”
- Bryant in a 2013 interview with ESPN discussing how he's more mellow than he was earlier in his career.
On His Rivalry with Shaq
"I got one more than Shaq. So you can take that to the bank."
- Bryant during a postgame press conference after the Lakers won the NBA title in 2010.
On Facing Jordan
"I wasn’t scared or nervous back then when I played Jordan. He looked at me like he was going to f--- me up but I had to let him know that I wasn’t that guy. I let him know that I’m not like all those other guys he played against. That’s not what I was there for. I was there to compete and I did."
- Bryant on facing Michael Jordan and scoring 33 on him in only Kobe's second year in the league.
On Choosing To Be Great
“There’s a choice that we have to make as people, as individuals. If you want to be great at something, there’s a choice you have to make. We all can be masters at our craft, but you have to make a choice. What I mean by that is there are inherent sacrifices that come along with that. Family time, hanging out with friends, being a great friend, being a great son, nephew, whatever the case may be. There are sacrifices that come along with making that decision.”
- Bryant discussing how being great is a choice you make and accepting the sacrifices that come with greatness.
On Being Intimidated
"Never. Not at all. My mind doesn’t work that way. It’s something that’s never even entered my thought process. The last time I was intimidated was when I was 6 years old in karate class. I was an orange belt and the instructor ordered me to fight a black belt who was a couple years older and a lot bigger. I was scared sh-tless. I mean, I was terrified and he kicked my a--. But then I realized he didn’t kick my a-- as bad as I thought he was going to and that there was nothing really to be afraid of. That was around the time I realized that intimidation didn’t really exist if you’re in the right frame of mind."
- Bryant in a 2013 interview with ESPN on whether he's ever been intimidated on the basketball court.
On Facing LeBron One-On-One
"Me. No question. As far as one-on-one, I’m the best to ever do it."
- Bryant on who would win in a game between Lebron James and himself.
On Scoring 81
"Not even in my dreams. That was something that just happened. It's tough to explain. It's just one of those things."
- Bryant on if he ever thought about scoring so many points in a game.
On Having a Positive Attitude
“Have a good time. Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, smile, and just keep on rolling.”
- Bryant in a 2008 interview with CBS on persevering.
“When we are saying this cannot be accomplished, this cannot be done, then we are short-changing ourselves. My brain, it cannot process failure. It will not process failure. Because if I have to sit there and face myself and tell myself, ‘You’re a failure,’ I think that is worse, that is almost worse than death."
- Bryant discussing how he cannot comprehend the thought of failure.
On Taking So Many Shots
“I’ve shot too much from the time I was 8 years old. But ‘too much’ is a matter of perspective. Some people thought Mozart had too many notes in his compositions. Let me put it this way: I entertain people who say I shoot too much. I find it very interesting. Going back to Mozart, he responded to critics by saying there were neither too many notes or too few. There were as many as necessary.”
- Bryant on the criticism of how many shots he takes during a game.
On Living In Europe
“The thing that was always the most constant was the game. That was the refuge. That was the place I could go to and have complete familiarity no matter where I was … whether I got along with or didn’t get along with kids, it didn’t matter because I always had my ball. I could always pick up my basketball.”
- Bryant on basketball being the only constant in his life while moving around Europe.
On The Black Mamba Persona
"I had to organize things. So I created the ‘Black Mamba’. So Kobe has to deal with these issues, all the personal challenges. The Black Mamba steps on the court and does what he does. I’m destroying everybody that steps on the court."
- Bryant on Showtime's Muse discussing how the Black Mamba alter ego helps compartmentalize his life.
On What He Wanted From Basketball
"The challenge wasn’t only to win one, it was to win multiple rings. To be able to sit at the same lunch table with my muses, Michael, Magic. I wanted to be able to sit down at the same table with them and belong there. And I’m very proud to be able to say I can do that."
- Bryant discussing how the goal wasn't just to be great, but to be able to stand next to the greatest of all time and belong there.