124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

Mamba Mentality

This unseen pep talk Kobe Bryant gave the Alabama football team probably explains a lot

August 23, 2021

Monday would have been Kobe Bryant’s 43rd birthday, and as such the tributes poured in from around the sports world. Iconic highlights. Rare clips. Intimate interviews. Monday was Mamba Day and rightfully so. But of all the proverbial tips of the metaphorical caps, perhaps the best came courtesy of an unexpected source: Alabama football, which posted this incredible pep talk Kobe Bryant gave the Crimson Tide following his retirement in 2016.

We don't know exactly when this clip is from, but given questions about his final game, we know it was sometime between 2016 and 2019, a span that saw Alabama go 52-5 and make three college football national championships, winning one. We’re not saying it’s all due to Kobe—Nick Saban is a pretty good ball coach and Alabama have had some decent players—but we’re not not saying it either.

The topics Kobe covers are fascinating, from the virtues of impatience to knowing what it’s like to play beyond your limits because you practice beyond your limits. In the end, though, it’s just good to see the off-the-court side of Kobe once again. We’ve all heard the stories of his Jordan-like interactions with teammates, but footage like this proves he didn’t just berate and belittle. He walked his own talk and was more than happy to share his knowledge and experience with those who were eager to listen.

Judging by the way things have gone since then, it’s safe to say Alabama listened.