12:00 PM ET
Marc J. Spears
The Mamba Sports Academy was launched in 2018 as a joint athletic training business venture with Bryant and Sports Academy CEO Chad Faulkner. The name will change back to The Sports Academy on Tuesday, with a new website and logo rebranding, Faulkner told The Undefeated.
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash while on their way to the academy in Thousand Oaks, California, on the morning of Jan. 26.
The name “Mamba” was a part of Bryant’s nickname, “The Black Mamba,” which he gave to himself.
“Our beliefs and thoughts are Kobe is one of one. ‘Mamba’ is one of one,” Faulkner told The Undefeated. “And with that as we carry on as The Sports Academy, it’s more appropriate to put Kobe in another Hall of Fame, if you will, and to really respect a legacy that is really unrivaled, frankly, and let that live on its own. We will continue to do the work we do.
“We were fortunate to learn from Kobe. We will carry on much of those learnings that we have in a respectful way.”
Bryant was a five-time NBA champion and an 18-time All-Star. His No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys have been retired by the Lakers, and he was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in April.
Bryant, the 2007-08 NBA MVP, hosted a workout and a classroom tutorial for several NBA players, including Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Jamal Murray, De’Aaron Fox, Tobias Harris, Isaiah Thomas and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, last offseason at the Thousand Oaks location. Bryant also had a similar workout and classroom tutorial with WNBA players from Jan. 13 to 15.
Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy told The Undefeated that he hopes to have a similar NBA workout and classroom in Bryant’s honor in the future. Faulkner is open-minded about having similar workouts for elite NBA and WNBA players at their facilities.
The Sports Academy has locations in Thousand Oaks and Redondo Beach; both facilities are primarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the exception of the medical clinic in Thousand Oaks. Faulkner said he would be “all for” placing a memorial of the five-time NBA champion at both locations, but only with the blessing of the Bryant family.
“That will really end up being up to the desires of the family and to the respect of the family,” Faulkner said. “For us, we leave that up to the future. This is such a critical time for the family to keep working through the grieving process and everything they’re working for. We are going to play really conservative from that approach. We are all for it. … But it’s really not necessarily the right thing for us to do proactively.”
According to the website, the mission of Mamba Sports Academy was to have “a full-circle facility designed to update the way men, women and youth approach human performance, by creating a multi-platform environment that activates, educates and provides an opportunity for humans to unlock their full potential. We provide effective, safe and transparent human performance training to develop athletes to the peak of their potential.”
It included a charitable foundation, sports physical training academies and a sports-focused venture lab.
The new website for the Academy will be sportsacademy.us, and its social handle will be @sportsxacademy.
When asked what Mamba Sports Academy employees learned from their time with Bryant, Faulkner said: “I hope they gained a sense of pride. Determination. The hard work. The attention to detail. The focus and the commitment, frankly, it takes to be great. We all get to define our level of greatness. We had plenty of conversations around here about how much we respected Kobe, because as talented as he was naturally, he put even more work than most humans would just to be greater.
“It’s such a teaching platform, frankly, to learn those different lessons from the time we had together. He was actually working with the organization to push out and educate more folks. Our staff and folks coming in were able to work with Kobe firsthand and be close to him. It’s even that much more real to them, which gave them a sense of pride and purpose moving forward. And also, how to be a strong individual and know it’s your journey.”