Throughout his 20-year NBA career and post-retirement life, Kobe Bryant showcased his "Mamba Mentality," putting his exact mindset into words in a resurfaced conversation with Kansas City Chiefs tight end, Travis Kelce. The late NBA icon explained the best way to deal with critics in an NSFW way, with Kelce admitting it was all about a "nonstop Mamba Mentality."
"I met Kobe one time — you know, RIP — I hate to keep bringing him up because it's still too soon for me. His mentality has meant so much for sports that when I met him... Sure enough, I shook his hand, I thanked him for bringing his mindset to light so people could understand you've gotta have that competitive switch and he looked at me, stared into my eyes and said, 'f— 'em. F— 'em all.' And it still gives me goosebumps because that made me want to run through a wall, ASAP."
The Super Bowl-winning tight end provided the insight into this interaction during an appearance on the Lefkoe Show. Kelce told host Adam Lefkoe that he doesn't worry about the critics after a playoff run when he was called out for dropping passes early against the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans. Instead, he thinks back to a conversation with Bryant about the Mamba Mentality and just continues to make plays.
There were many Chiefs fans that called out Kelce early during the Divisional Round game against the Houston Texans. He had dropped passes early as the team fell into a 24-0 hole in the second quarter. However, Kelce ultimately caught 10 passes on the day and scored three touchdowns as the Chiefs took a 28-24 lead into halftime, ultimately winning 51-31.
Kelce also dropped a pass during the AFC Championship game against the Tennessee Titans. He still caught three others for 30 yards during the 35-24 victory. The Chiefs secured a spot in Super Bowl LIV, but there were still some fans of the team giving Kelce grief.
Once the tight end faced off with the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, he flipped that competitive switch and incorporated Bryant's Mamba Mentality. Kelce caught all six of his targets on Super Bowl Sunday, including a touchdown to spark the fourth-quarter comeback. He finished his night as a champion while comments about dropped passes faded away.
Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 and is no longer able to provide advice for younger athletes. Kelce was one that had a brief interaction, and he has continued to use that advice throughout his career. The message was simple, but it was effective.