Kobe Bryant, undoubtedly one of the greatest basketball players of all time, surprised lucky young players from the London School of Basketball (LSB) with a return visit to London to share his thoughts on the now legendary ‘Mamba Mentality’ and inspire a new generation of players from across the capital.

‘Kobe’ is the NBA’s 3rd highest career scoring leader, amassing an incredible 33,643 points over a 20 year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, which also saw him crowned as a NBA Champion 5 times  while also earning ‘All-NBA’ honours 15 times alongside 18 ‘All-Star’ game selections and earning an additional 2 Olympic Gold Medals along the way.  He is a bonafide basketball legend in the truest sense of the word, who has created a special place for himself at the highest levels of historical basketball achievement through an awe-inspiring work ethic and unrivalled dedication to the game that has redefined what ‘hard work’ truly means when pursuing your passion.

Excited players from the LSB ready to meet Kobe at Nike Town London (Photo Credit: MMTV)

Well-respected and loved throughout the LSB, Kobe previously came to London to help launch London's biggest grassroots basketball program back in 2010. Upon hearing he was coming back, the opportunity to meet Kobe caused near mass-hysteria for the lucky players from the LSB, but for one special player in particular, the ‘Mamba experience’ was taken to a whole new level.  COHENEL Warriors guard TJ Burnett was selected from the crowd by Kobe in recognition of his dedication and passion for the game and his sense of responsibility in wanting to pass on the gift of basketball to the next generation as an emerging LSB Coach.

In explaining the ‘Mamba Mentality’ is all about overcoming obstacles, accepting your own truths and then working with Kobe-esque dedication to overcome your personal challenges, Kobe proceeded to personally challenge TJ to become an inspiration for the kids in his own community while pushing himself to become a better teammate and leader on his team. 

TJ has been a star player at the LSB's Enfield Basketball Academy at COHENEL, nurtured by Head Coach Jay Williams.  During his time at the academy, he's developed a passion for coaching, qualified as a Level 2 coach and been appointed team captain for the season.  

Jay Williams, KISSFM's Swarzy Macaly & TJ Burnett

"TJ has been a pleasure to coach and has established himself as a great example of what we strive to develop at the LSB - both on and off the court.  I'm proud of him and happy to see him selected for this honour in getting to meet Kobe. I know he'll do us all proud" - Jay Williams. 

Making the most of his time with one of the greatest players of all time, TJ took the opportunity to ask what advice Kobe could give him in helping him become a better leader to his teammates at COHENEL as he admitted he found himself frustrated at the apparent apathy from his peers who didn't seem to take practice and preparation as seriously as he does.

TJ Burnett & Kobe Bryant (Photo Credit: NIKE)

"Be the first to practise and the last to leave (set the standard).  Then the key is, how do you get others to do the same thing?  You've got to challenge your teammates, but first you must listen to them and understand what their journeys are, what motivates them so then you can hit that button and strike that nerve so it's on them and it comes from within (them).  At this point they are no longer just responding to listening to your challenge, but (instead) it's coming from them and they're motivating themselves.  Also key in on the fundamentals.  Pay attention to detail - not just with basketball but with all aspects of your life." -Kobe Bryant

Kobe also went on to challenge TJ to find out "How do you teach kids to be the best version of themselves, through the game of basketball?" - which aligns perfectly with the ethos of the LSB.  "We're all about transferable skills at the LSB.  We understand the positive characteristics developed on the basketball court, in pursuit of excellence, transition seamlessly into other areas of life - which is where the real wins take place" Jay Williams concluded. 

In accepting the challenge TJ forever linked his own story to one of the biggest icons in the world of basketball and will look to channel the ‘Mamba’ mindset and energy into fuelling his own efforts in inspiring the next generation and fulfilling his responsibility as one of the leaders of the ‘new school’ of the London School of Basketball.

TJ Burnett in action for COHENEL

“I've been blown away by the whole day. Meeting a true legend and him taking time to learn about me and my situation here in London has meant more to me than words can say.  I'm honoured to have been selected and I will take on the challenge set by Kobe to be a better teammate on my team and leader for the young kids I coach in my local community"

-TJ Burnett


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Good luck TJ. Inspire those kids one by one!#mambamentality

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