What Kobe Meant to Me

By: Jason Gandhi


Mamba Mentality.


The words that could motivate the 10-year-old like nothing else. Those two words drove him further than any person he had ever met. That kid was me.


Kobe Bryant was my idol. I stayed up countless nights as a little kid, past my bedtime, just to get a glimpse of what he did that night. I didn’t know I loved basketball until he left the game. I knew I loved Kobe, but I thought that was it. Kobe made me fall in love with the game.


When I was younger, it was all about trying to replicate his every move. I was never into legos or those kinds of things. My toy was the “Mamba Mentality”. I would go outside and work on the infamous turnaround jumper from the elbow or reenact the game-winning shot Kobe hit the night before.  It was what I loved.


The obsession didn’t end with his moves on the floor. Kobe influenced my life off the floor. I bought eleven of his jerseys, from high school to Christmas games, and had countless shirts and shorts of Kobe apparel. I could not get enough of it. I went to every game for the past 5 years when Kobe came to Indy and idolized him right behind the bench every single time.


But, I grew up. I realized 5’10”, skinny and average talent doesn’t get you to the NBA. But that didn’t stop the love of basketball. I turned the mentality from trying to master Kobe’s moves to try to pick his brain and WHY he made the move he made, as he was one of the smartest people I have ever seen.  I listened to every postgame press conference, every interview, just to try and understand a glimpse of what the Mamba Mentality was.


I continued to watch every game and study. But then “Dear Basketball” came out. I remember sitting on my couch shocked that Kobe was finally calling it quits. This season would be the last time I could watch my idol take the floor. When he came to Indiana, that was the best game I have ever been to. The atmosphere and the way Kobe willed his team back in the game one last time in person left me starstruck. He threw me his water bottle that night, and I use that as a symbol to go forward. I have it on my desk to push me along with that “Mamba Mentality”.


On Mamba Day, April 13th, 2016, it was the final time. I was up until 4:24 AM that night. It was the perfect culmination. It was just like my childhood days. Staying up past my bedtime… to get a glimpse of what he did that night.


Kobe Bryant pushed me and will continue to push me to wherever my life takes me. He has no idea the impact he had, and since we have never had a conversation, he never will know. But, I didn’t have to meet him… it was the way he carried himself and how I was shaped because of it.


It was and always will be the Mamba Mentality.




10 Questions–Basketball 11/30-12/6

This is my new series “10 Questions” that I will be doing ideally every week! There will be a football and a basketball one each week. Hope you enjoy and let me know if you want to see anything else!


  1. What’s next for the Ball family?


Lonzo will keep doing what he’s doing with the Lakers. The latest development with LiAngelo will not alter his status. For the other brothers, obviously, LiAngelo is most affected. According to Lavar, he will not be transferring to another school, so that begs the question as to what his other options are? Well, he can go overseas and play for a living in Europe. He could also train here with his own people and get ready for the draft. The only issue with that is that he was only a 3-star prospect, so he was not as highly touted as some people think. He will have to improve tremendously in order to have a legitimate chance to get drafted. Mitchell Robinson is also not going to college and preparing for the draft, but the difference is he was a 5-star and a top center in his class. For LaMelo, his eligibility is definitely in question. The Ball’s will have to prove he did not receive any compensation from Big Baller Brand, but more importantly from his signature shoe. He is also helping set up “pop-up shops” with Lavar, so with all the money and deals swirling around him, they will have to prove his eligibility. If he is eligible the plan, as of now, is for LaMelo to still attend UCLA.

2. Which Arizona team is legit?



Who knows at this point? We do know they have the talent to run the table. Allonzo Trier and Deandre Ayton are top 25 players in the nation and they have good surrounding pieces. The confusing part of the Wildcats is just consistency. They are coming off a huge win over the #7 team in the country in the Texas A&M Aggies. Only Allonzo Trier only took 7 shots and 7 points. Yet, Dusan Ristic had 13 points and was a big reason Arizona stayed in the game. On the flipside, when the Wildcats played NC State and lost in the 1st round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, Trier was on fire. He had 27 points and 5 rebounds. Ristic had 11 points and 6 rebounds, so not a bad game but still was not as dominant. We know Ayton will be the leader of the team, but why is Trier not producing in wins? That’s the confusing part. Arizona will still be an elite 8 team come March, but it’s definitely a storyline that needs to be watched.

3. What’s the ceiling for the Michigan State Spartans?



Michigan State comes in 7-1 and their only loss coming to the #1 team in the country Duke. As conference play begins, they routed Nebraska and got by Rutgers. This team has some ironing out to do, but this might be the most talented team in East Lansing since the infamous Flintstones. Jaren Jackson is a stud defensively and is finding his role in the offense. Miles Bridges is a superstar and one of the most fun players to watch in college basketball. Cassius Winston and Nick Ward being two of the most underrated players in the country, is a reason the Spartans are a legitimate contender to the Blue Devils and Jayhawks come tournament time. They could win the title.

4. How big is the gap between Duke and everyone else?



Every team goes through growing pains this early in the season. We’ve seen it with Arizona, Kentucky, Michigan State, Notre Dame and others. What’s the difference with Duke then? They find ways to win. Look at the Texas game… they did not play well in that and were down by 16 at one point. The difference is three people that are unlike any other in college basketball. Marvin Bagley III. Grayson Allen. Mike Krzyzewski. Bagley is the best freshman in the country and can take over games. Grayson Allen is the best senior in the country and has four years of success, heartbreak and growing pains to use as a base. Coach Krzyzewski is the best coach in college basketball. All of those three things add up as to why Duke is far and ahead the best team in college basketball.

5. What college basketball game are you most excited for this week?



Oklahoma vs. USC. Trae Young is leading Oklahoma with 28.7 points per game and a win over USC could be what Boomer Sooner needs to get rolling going into conference play. USC has extremely high expectations on them and this game will be a big one to help them move up the rankings if they can take down the Sooners.

6. Which player surprised the most so far?



Aaron Gordon. Who expected this? Aaron has had multiple 40 point games already and is surprising everyone. His points average is up 7 points and is shooting a better percentage. The Magic got off to a hot start and a lot of that is due to Gordon. The Magic might have found a true gem in the draft that just took some time to develop.

7. What to make of all the injuries?



Gordon Hayward, D’Angelo Russell, Zach Lavine, Derrick Rose, Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, Danilo Gallinari, Blake Griffin, Mike Conley, Hassan Whiteside, Jabari Parker, Anthony Davis, Kristaps Porzingis, Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Kawhi Leonard, Rodney Hood, John Wall, Stephen Curry, Devin Booker… That list is a list of better than average players who have missed a significant amount of time. I probably missed a few as well… The injuries really have piled up and depleted some teams AKA Clippers. When these guys get back, the league will only get better.

8. Are the Rockets the best team in the West?


The Rockets are 7-0 since Chris Paul returned, and they’ve led by as many as 20 points in each of those seven wins… they have been unstoppable. CP3 and Harden are gelling and the team is forming around them. D’Antoni’s system is now in its 2nd year and coming together. The Rockets are finally putting pieces in place to rival the Warriors… They need one more addition and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a star but they just need one more solid piece to truly compete with the Warriors.

9. Who won the Pacers-Thunder trade looking back?


I don’t think either team won or lost. It was a great trade for both teams. I was one of the big believers in the Pacers got swindled. But looking back, both teams got what they needed. The Thunder got Paul George, which put them in the race for the West. Oladipo and Sabonis were not going to get them there. The Thunder have crunch time issues, but they wouldn’t be in crunch time without PG-13. The Pacers got youth and scorers. Sabonis is in his 2nd year in the NBA and Oladipo is a scoring machine. He is averaging more points than Paul George did for the Pacers. I know it’s early, but Oladipo could be an instrumental part of the return to greatness in Indiana. Both teams got better and are in a good position.

10. Is Bradley Beal enough to keep the Wizards competitive?



Bradley Beal DESTROYED the Trail Blazers Tuesday night and dropped 51. The night before Beal and the Wizards got DESTROYED by the Jazz and lost by 47. So which Beal is the real one and can he get the Wizards going? Well, we knew Beal needed to pick it up when John Wall got hurt and was sidelined for two weeks. I don’t think we should expect to see 50+ points from him a game, but 25-35 a night isn’t unrealistic. He was the #3 pick in the draft for the reason, and it’s now or never for him to fulfill that potential and keep the Wizards in the top 5 while Wall is sidelined.

NBA Week 5

Biggest Takeaway in the Atlantic Division

Jason- Ben Simmons has been phenomenal but the Wizards game… he HAS to knock down those free throws. 24 IN THE 4th QUARTER! And he made 12…

Dylan- The Knicks are going back to normal and the Sixers are looking great

Dan- The Nets are starting to play like people expected them to.

Biggest Takeaway in the Central Division

Jason- Lebron DOMINATED the 76ers in the 1st quarter and had more points than them more the majority of it.

Dylan- 10 in a row for the Cavs! They are officially back.

Dan- Lebron looked like he was on a mission this week.

Biggest Takeaway in the Southeast Division

Jason- Aaron Gordon has played phenomenal this season and has REALLY impressed me.

Dylan- This division is really struggling. The Wizards need to play better

Dan- Not a great week for Miami, but there bench is showing some promise.

Biggest Takeaway in the Pacific Division

Jason- Lonzo played well against the Warriors and that was one of the most complete games the team has played this year.

Dylan- The Clippers are still the better team in LA despite losing a new player every week

Dan- The Warriors “death lineup” has looked a lot worse from prior years. I know it’s early, but I don’t think it will be a breeze in the playoffs.

Biggest Takeaway in the Southwest Division

Jason- The Spurs should be worried about Kawhi… this is more serious than it looks on the surface.

Dylan- The Rockets keep getting better and might give the Warriors a real run for their money in the playoffs

Dan- Harden would get my vote for MVP right now.

Biggest Takeaway in the Northwest Division

Jason- Will Barton took over the game against the Bulls… that has to be a positive for the Nuggets with so much negativity in the last few days.

Dylan- Paul Millsap’s injury is going to be huge going forward for the Nuggets as they try to stay in the playoff race

Dan- Very solid week for the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell is balling.

Player of the Week

Jason- Lebron James

Dylan- Lebron James

Dan- Lebron James

Game of the Week

Jason- Warriors @ Lakers

Dylan- Lakers @ Clippers

Dan- Warriors @ Lakers

Bold Prediction

Jason- The Clippers still make the playoffs despite losing all of their players with talent (Besides Lou).

Dylan- The Sixers get a top 4 seed in the East

Dan- The Warriors have multiple 6 game series in the playoffs.

College Basketball Takeaways Week 3

Biggest Takeaway in the SEC

Jason- The fact that Collin Sexton could keep Alabama in the game with 3 players, shows how good he really is.

Dan- LOOK OUT for A&M. I see a lot of wins in this team’s future.


Biggest Takeaway in the Pac-12

Jason- UCLA and USC struggled. Not a good week for the Pac-12.

Dan- Colorado is 6-0 right now with their best win as Air Force, and the rest of their schedule is cake. They could have a very deceiving record at the end of the year.


Biggest Takeaway in the ACC

Jason- Duke can beat ANYBODY. They just outlast them until the end.

Dan- The ACC showed they are the best conference in America outlasting the Big Ten 11-3 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.


Biggest Takeaway in the Big 12

Jason- Although Texas lost to Duke and Gonzaga this week, they looked really good and a team that could surprise people later in the year.

Dan- TCU’s nonconference could hurt them come Selection Sunday.


Biggest Takeaway in the Big 10

Jason- Michigan State beating Notre Dame and beat them down showed how good this team can be, WITHOUT Miles Bridges taking over.

Dan- I don’t see much promise in the Big Ten besides Michigan State. Also, why are they already playing conference games?


Biggest Takeaway in the Big East

Jason- Kelan Martin’s layup at the buzzer was a HUGE win over former coach, Chris Holtmann

Dan- Seton Hall had a great bounce back week and will be dangerous in the tournament.


Bold Prediction for the Season

Dan: Texas A&M finishes as a 1 seed.

Jason: Duke has one loss all season and it is in January.


Player of the Week

Dan: Marvin Bagley

Jason: Marvin Bagley


Surprise Player of the Week

Dan: Desi Rodriguez

Jason: Cassius Winston


Game of the Week

Dan: Duke vs Texas

Jason: Duke vs Texas/ Butler vs Ohio State

NBA Week 5

Biggest Takeaway in the Atlantic Division

Jason- Kyrie Irving is playing like the 3rd best player in the league. (He’s not, just right now he looks like it)

Dan- If Tim Hardaway Jr can keep playing like this, the New York might’ve found another piece of the puzzle.

Zach- Ben Simmons might already be the best young star in the NBA…through 17 games.

Biggest Takeaway in the Central Division

Jason- The Pistons are beginning to come back to earth. They are finally cooling off.

Dan- Great week for the Cavs. Make Lebron take over.

Zach- The Pacers are one of the most exciting teams to watch. They play unselfish and play for each other.

Biggest Takeaway in the Southeast Division

Jason- The combo of Dragic and Waiters PLUS Whiteside should make the Heat competitive with the Raptors and Wizards.

Dan- Kemba and Howard have played great together these past three games. We’ll see if they can keep it up.

Zach- The Magic are finally returning to reality.

Biggest Takeaway in the Pacific Division

Jason- I’m writing this after the Nuggets game on Sunday… This was the Zo and Randle we Laker fans have been dying for. Personally, I start Randle and let Kuz and Clarkson DESTROY benches.

Dan- What does it take to beat the Warriors? Three guys with double doubles and three guys with 20+ points. Good luck!

Zach- TJ Warren should be in contention for Most Improved Player.

Biggest Takeaway in the Southwest Division

Jason- The Mavericks need to turn this around… call me crazy but DSJ will get tired of losing FAST.

Dan- Very solid week for the Mavs, beating the leading MVP candidate, almost ending Boston’s losing streak, and picking up another win against Memphis. It looks like when Barnes plays well, the team plays well.

Zach- The Grizzlies need to turn their season around after losing 6 straight games.

Biggest Takeaway in the Northwest Division

Jason- The Thunder finally looked legit against the Warriors Wednesday night. If they play like this, the Western Conference Finals will be one heck of a series.

Dan- IF the Thunder play that well in a 7 game series, then they could win the Finals, but I don’t see a way they can play like that every night.

Zach- The Thunder finally proved that they are a legitimate Finals contender and can beat anybody.

Player of the Week

Jason- Joel Embiid

Dan- Tim Hardaway Jr

Zach- Russell Westbrook

Game of the Week

Jason- Pistons @ Timberwolves

Dan- Celtics @ Mavericks

Zach- Warriors @ Thunder

Bold Prediction

Jason- The Lakers get the #8 seed in the playoffs

Dan- The Cavs go on a 12 game winning streak.

Zach- The Pacers get the #5 seed in the playoffs.

NCAAM Takeaways Week 1

Biggest Takeaway in the SEC

Jason- Collin Sexton’s playmaking explosive play brings an excitement around Alabama basketball they haven’t seen since the Antonio McDyess days in Tuscaloosa.

Dan- Kentucky needs to shoot much better from behind the arch if they want something big. Knox cant do it all.

Zach- Kevin Knox played an outstanding game and was the best player on the floor vs. Kansas. His combination of shooting, rebounding, and defending has proven why he was a top ranked player in High School. He is their difference maker moving forward.


Biggest Takeaway in the Pac-12

Jason- UCLA took Central Arkansas to OT… like they need more headlines

Dan- Arizona has one of the best duos in the country in Trier and Ayton.

Zach- Allonzo Trier with back-to-back 30+ point games…someone wants to be POY.


Biggest Takeaway in the ACC

Jason- I was waiting for Trevon Duval, Marvin Bagley, Gary Trent Jr. or Wendell Carter to take over… but instead it was Grayson Allen, the senior, to come thru and power them to a win against MSU.

Dan- Notre Dame has relied on the 3 for the past 4 years and have been successful. They will need to figure out a way to shoot better.

Zach- Grayson Allen is the best player in College Basketball right now and should be the favorite to win POY. He carried that team and hit huge shots while MBIII was out.


Biggest Takeaway in the Big 12

Jason- Kansas doesn’t have any star freshman, but Coach Self has got vets in Malik Newman and Devonte Graham who are just as good if not better.

Dan- I loved how Kansas played against Kentucky with four guys in double figures, but Self must not be confident in his bench having all 5 starters play 32 minutes or more.

Zach- I really like Malik Newman at PG for Kansas. They picked up a huge win vs. Kentucky and showed that they are a balanced team with tons of playmakers.


Biggest Takeaway in the Big 10

Jason- Jaren Jackson and Miles Bridges are both superstars… This is the best team in college basketball down the stretch.

Dan- There’s a good chance we just saw the national championship game played early in the season. Both teams look like the best college basketball has to offer.

Zach- Jaren Jackson really impressed against Duke. His shooting adds a whole new dimension to his game. IU fans…it will take awhile for Archie Miller to change the culture. Justin Smith, Devonte Green, and Al Durham have showed lots of promise.


Biggest Takeaway in the Big East

Jason- Xavier vs Villanova should be a shootout this year… both teams are clicking early.

Dan- Mills Bridges had one bad and one good game this week, and NOVA will feed off of his production.

Zach- Trevon Bluiett is a special player. He will lead the X to be a scary team down the stretch.


Bold Prediction for the Season

Dan: Grayson Allen leads the nation in scoring.

Jason: Indiana finishes with a losing record.

Zach: Trevon Bluiett will be a finalist for Naismith Player of the Year.


Player of the Week

Dan: Grayson Allen

Jason: Grayson Allen

Zach: Grayson Allen


Surprise Player of the Week

Dan: Egor Koulechov

Jason: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Zach: Jaren Jackson Jr.


Game of the Week

Dan: Duke vs Michigan State

Jason: Duke vs Michigan State

Zach: Duke vs. Michigan State

NBA Week 4

Biggest Takeaway in the Atlantic Division

Jason- This is the best division right now… all 5 teams would be in the playoffs if it ended today.

Dan- Where was this defense by Kyrie in last year’s finals.

Zach- The Celtics are looking like they will be the next dynasty after the Warriors era ends. (Kanter and Ntilikina…don’t mess with The King)

Biggest Takeaway in the Central Division

Jason- Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon are a top backcourt in the league.

Dan- Detroit is playing very good basketball right now. We’ll see if they can keep it up.

Zach- The Cavs need IT back to return to their NBA Finals status.

Biggest Takeaway in the Southeast Division

Jason- I like the Dwight Howard signing in Charlotte, and Batum played his first game Wednesday, so don’t worry yet about the Hornets.

Dan- Washington is the only team worth a glance in this division right now.

Zach- The Magic are starting to cool down after their hot start.

Biggest Takeaway in the Pacific Division

Jason- The Lakers are getting production from a different guy every night… they look GOOD, but against the 76ers, Embiid was just too dominant.

Dan- Golden State’s winning streak could last awhile.

Zach- Jordan Clarkson is playing like the best player on the Lakers right now.

Biggest Takeaway in the Southwest Division

Jason- The Grizzlies, after their hot start, have fallen to 7-7… This is what we expected. What we didn’t was the resurgence of Tyreke Evans.

Dan- I feel like Harden’s play is greatly overlooked right now.

Zach- Dennis Smith Jr is a future superstar.

Biggest Takeaway in the Northwest Division

Jason- The Thunder need Melo to play like USA Melo… Russell and PG are the main options

Dan- KAT is a future top 3 player in the league.

Zach- Paul George needs to get more involved if the Thunder want to make a run in the Playoffs.

Player of the Week

Jason- Joel Embiid

Dan- Joel Embiid

Zach- LeBron James

Game of the Week

Jason- 76ers @ Clippers

Dan- Cavaliers @ Knicks

Zach- Cavaliers @ Knicks

Bold Prediction

Jason- Tyreke Evans averages 20ppg

Dan- Golden State goes on a 20+ game winning streak off of the Celtics loss.

Zach- Ben Simmons will win Rookie of the Year unanimously.