Lakers blog profile: Mamba24 shares his admiration for Kobe Bryant
This is the 14th post in a weekly series that helps you get to know members of the L.A. Times Lakers Blog community. Feel free to send submissions to email@example.com.
Screen Name: Mamba24
Story behind your Screen Name: I started out as 8ON8. The first 8 represents Kobe’s number, the second 8 represented infinity. I posted very infrequently using that name. When I started posting more frequently, I changed my name several times because none of the names I picked seemed to resonate with me. Finally one of the bloggers told me, since you like Kobe why don’t you use his nickname “Black Mamba”. I liked that idea and so took it and added Kobe’s number - which was 8 at the time - to the Black Mamba name. I posted for about two weeks as BlackMamba8 and then shortened it to Mamba8. When Kobe changed his number to 24, I changed my name to mamba24 and that is what it has been since. Now, I even prefer it to my real name. My youngest daughter always calls me that when she wants something: “Come on Mamba24 don’t be like that, that’s bogus!” Yeah right baby girl!
How I became a Lakers Fan: My Uncle was what we called a Gypsy Barber. He didn’t have a barbershop, but his clients made appointments and he went to them. He used to take me on some his jobs and I met a lot of interesting people and heard a lot of interesting things. Anyway, I guess he took me with him to try to be the Father figure in my life, because my dad was away a lot for his job. One of my uncle’s clients was the late former basketball player, Norm Van Lier. As we were coming to Van Lier’s house who should be coming out but Jamaal Wilkes.
The Lakers had just won the title and what he was doing at Norm’s I have no idea. Any way Van Lier introduced him to me and my Uncle and he was just like his name smooth as Silk. I forgot to ask him for an autograph until he was in his car, then I asked but he said he had to go but he’d get something to me. I thought “Sure” but he had been so cool I wasn’t mad. I had forgotten all about the promise, when about a month later a package arrived from him. I guess he got our address from Norm. In the package were two autographed wrist bands and an autographed Official Lakers Schedule. From that moment, I was instantly a Lakers fan. The sad part is instead of putting the wrist bands in plastic and saving them, I wore them, like an idiot when I played Ball until the autographs wore off and they were just rags. Stupid huh? I saved the schedule. Yeah I saved it so good even I don’t know where it is.
All Time Favorite Laker: Kobe Bryant. What’s not to like? 82 points in a game, scoring more points in a game than an entire team, numerous consecutive 50+ point games, most game winning shots by a current player are just a few of his vital statistics. But statistics alone do not do the Mamba justice. The will, the fire and the strength to virtually will his team to victory after victory, MY GOODNESS! Not to mention his decision to keep playing - despite his mangled hand - because he knew the Lakers would need home court advantage…and they DID!!
The sacrifices Mamba puts his body through for his team is unbelievable. Can you name one other player today who gives more for and to his team? Can’t can you? Only one other man had this drive and I refuse to say his name but…his initials are MJ. So for me Kobe it is and Kobe it will always. Without scoring another point or winning another title he is right there in the conversation as GOAT. My heart says he is, but my head says it is either Magic or MJ. But both my heart and my head say that in a year or 2 there will be no debate, no question who the GOAT is…KOBE BEAN BRYANT
Greatest Laker of All Time: Magic. Any player who can play all 5 positions and play center score 40 and win a championship as a rookie what else do you have to do. Of course any player that can score 81 points in a game and score more than an opposing team is not to shabby either. My heart says Kobe for the greatest. My head says Magic. My heart has been wrong a lot lately so I’ll go with my head…Magic Johnson it is.
Most Heartbreaking Lakers Experience: The Magic Johnson HIV news conference. When I heard that, I’m not ashamed to say I just fell completely apart, because in those days we thought HIV was pretty much a death sentence. I mean I was completely numb for about a week. I wouldn’t talk to anybody or ISH. Now years later we still have our GLOAT. Although he sometimes makes some bonehead selections for NBA Finals winners, that’s my guy!!! Second worst experience: Losing to the Pistons in 2004. We were picked by everyone to win. We were Ready! We were Rolling! WE WERE BEAT!!! My very soul still aches at that defeat. To this day I haven’t gotten over it. I also lost a little money which didn’t help.
Funniest Lakers Experience: Watching the 2001 Finals against the Philly 76ers with my baby daughter. I sat back all ready to enjoy a bonding experience with my favorite daughter who I thought was a Lakers fan, so what happened? Kobe hit a couple shots and I yelled “HA!” and tried to give my daughter a high five. My precious little angel, what did she do? She just sits there and looks at me stone faced. . Then…then, AI hit’s a couple and she yells HA, HA! I looked at my precious little child – supposedly the next generation of Lakers Nation - and my only thought was… OH THE HORROR!!!. It was then that I found out my little darling was an Allen Iverson fan & was watching The Finals with me not to see the Lakers, but… to see Allen Iverson. OH SWEET JESUS!
Favorite Lakers’ Memory of All Time: Can there be any doubt? Ron Ron’s press conference after the Finals. That was the funniest, most human, non-scripted, thing of beauty I have ever witnessed. My entire family was alternately rolling on the floor with laughter, smiling with pride and crying at the humanness of it all. I’ve looked at it over and over and I never get tired of it and have the same series of reactions every time. Ron is a unique character in the lore of sports. I was not for our getting him, but once he became a Laker he has been a favorite every since. A close second was Game 7 itself. I have to admit I thought game 7 was a lost cause and yet the Lake show roared back and defeated the hated Celtics. You talk about yelling and screaming and yes even a few tears...WOW!
Last time you went to a game at Staples Center or at The Forum: I never attended a game at the Forum or Staples. But no matter what, I intend to get some Finals tickets and attend this year.
Opposing Team, Player you dislike most: Princess Jimmy and MJ. Boston and The Heat no doubt.
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