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McKinley Wright exemplifies Mamba Mentality

Kobe inspired multiple generations.

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NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-California vs Colorado Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a hard couple of days. Kobe Bryant was supposed to be untouchable, a living breathing legend whose singular impact was felt most as a global ambassador to the sport. The world is mourning his loss. We lost someone who was supposed to become an elder statesman.

Kobe crafted the “Mamba Mentality,” which was a mindset about challenging yourself to get better in everything you do. It’s about sizing yourself up against the best and brightest, learning what it takes to get better, and putting in the work to see those results. The mentality isn’t playing hero ball and chucking shots, it’s discipline, hard work and perseverance.

As we cover the Colorado Buffaloes, we can see Kobe’s impact on the floor, particularly through that Mamba Mentality. Look no further than McKinley Wright, who like so many others grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant. Following Bryant’s tragic death, Wright told Chase Howell, “Kobe is the reason I ever picked a basketball.”

Wright is revered for his insatiable work ethic and competitive streak. He wouldn’t be here in Boulder without it. Wright is the epitome of the kid who had to develop a chip on his shoulder to survive adversity. Basketball was Wright’s escape from a tumultuous childhood that was constantly on the move and in search of stability. Kobe was his hero when his father was in prison and basketball was his life. When he needed something to make sense.

The Mamba Mentality shows up every day Wright laces up his sneakers. An undersized guard who was lightly recruited, he stepped onto campus as CU’s best player. Tad Boyle hailed his work ethic, confidence and leadership. Everyone has always listened to him, even the veterans, because he knows how to fight through adversity. He puts in the work and holds his teammates to those same standards.

As far as Wright’s playing ability goes, it’s easy to see where he’s sized himself up, understood what he’s needed to improve and put in the work to actualize that.

As a freshman, USC’s Jordan McLaughlin fooled him on a fake, so Wright learned that move and used it in the next game. Last season he played through half the season with a torn labrum, something straight out of Kobe’s playbook. Now as a junior, he’s added to his game, over sees winning basketball and balls out in the biggest games. If Colorado is going anywhere this season, it’s with McKinley Wright leading the team like he’s Kobe.

This is how Kobe will be immortalized. Players all over the world take Kobe’s game and work elements of it into theirs. Others take on his mentality of perpetual self growth, in both basketball and in life. Legends never die because they permeate around the world.