In recent years, Kobe Bryant has been known as the Black Mamba, and while the nickname is now vastly popular among Bryant’s fans, there has still been the question of where the alias originated from.
Well, now we know.
During an extensive interview with Ben McGrath from The New Yorker, Bryant revealed that he gave himself the Black Mamba nickname after watching Kill Bill, and he decided to use the new “alter ego” as a way to cope after the Colorado incident in 2003.
[pullquote]He was the Black Mamba, a nickname he given himself after watching Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill,” in which the snake, known for its agility and aggressiveness, was used as a code name for a deadly assassin. “I read up on the animals and said, ‘Wow, this is pretty awesome.’ This is a perfect description of how I would want my game to be.
The adoption of an alter ego was a way of coping, Bryant now admits, with the fallout from his arrest for sexual assault, in a Colorado hotel room, in the summer of 2003. The charges were later dismissed, and a civil settlement was reached with the alleged victim, but Bryant struggled with the perception that he was damaged goods. “After the Colorado incident, I had every major sponsor drop me, except Nike. So I’m sitting there thinking, What am I going to do now? My vision was to build a brand and do all these things. Now, everybody’s telling me I can’t do it. The name evokes such a negative emotion. I said, ‘If I create this alter ego, so now when I play this is what’s coming out of your mouth, it separates the personal stuff, right?’ You’re not watching David Banner – you’re watching the Hulk.”[/pullquote]
This is very interesting, and it makes a lot of sense, too.
Bryant first started using the nickname in 2007, which is also around the same time that he changed his number from 8 to 24.
It seems that these changes symbolized the beginning of a new career for Kobe, who then went on to win his first MVP trophy in 2008 and his first NBA championship without Shaquille O’Neal in 2009.