The third season of the Mamba League culminated on Saturday with their Championship tournament. The Mamba League is a collaboration between NBA legend Kobe Bryant, Nike and the Boys and Girls Club to develop youth from disenfranchised communities as athletes and as people.
“Nike is incredibly proud of the Mamba League L.A. participants, coaches and volunteers who showed up for the past eight weeks and showed off their new basketball skills on Tournament Day,” said Blanca Gonzalez, vice president and general manager of Nike’s West Territory. “We are encouraged and inspired by the kids who came out today, because our partnership with Kobe Bryant and Boys and Girls Clubs across LA truly reflects our shared mission to make sport a daily habit for everyone.”
Boys and Girls clubs throughout L.A. County competed in the tournament on Saturday from Challengers in South L.A., the Watts/Willowbrook branch, to the Whittier branch. Over the course of the eight-week program, 1,000 children participated in the League. Teaching mamba mentality origins from teaching youth the importance of curiosity.
“When you have a curious mind, that’s when you have a mind that’s always searching,” Bryant said. “Now we just move that in to the direction of we’re searching to get better.”
Bryant attended the championship games and handed out Mamba Mentality awards to 10 basketball players and awarded two coaches with the Wizenard Coach of the Year honor. Both coaches received an autographed Lakers no. 24 jersey.
Jordan Downs girls basketball coach Elisha Taylor was one of the Coaches of the Year, her team reached the championship game. Throughout the title match, she continued to ask her athletes what the team was lacking in gameplay and how can they fix it.
“We didn’t win the championship, but we made it all the way to the championship, that means a lot,” Taylor said. “We had a lot of adversity throughout the season, like kids’ kind of being down on themselves … but we pushed through.”
The Jordan Downs boys coach Marquis Aikens noted how his team had a lot of heart, talent, and integrity.
“I wanted to be a part of helping them bring it out,” Aikens said. “I told them at the beginning of the season, we were gonna go to the championship and we did.”
During the championship games, Bryant came to the huddle of all four teams to give them a pep talk. When the five-time NBA champion have the kids do drills at clinics, he makes sure they focus on the details. He does this to teach the youth pay attention to detail when pursuing their personal passions.
“We start with the absolute basics, we take the game at a macro level,” Bryant said. “We brake things down to the smallest of details and drill those small things over and over, then on to the next.”