Home / Articles / Mamba Memories: Reliving moments of Kobe Bryant’s amazing career with Nigerian basketball figures

Mamba Memories: Reliving moments of Kobe Bryant’s amazing career with Nigerian basketball figures

ike diogu kobe bryant lakers basketball within borders -

There’s no question that Kobe Bryant left an indelible mark in the annals of basketball history globally, including being a member of that historic team that set a number of records against the Nigerian basketball team at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

While the world, including fans of the game in Nigeria continue to mourn….well, sort of…the retirement of Bryant from the game, BWB dug up some memorable moments of the Great Black Mamba frozen in time with Nigerian basketball figures.

We initially considered making a piece with the title “Most Mamba Moments” for alliteration and competitive purposes but figured that would be unfair, seeing as either Al-Farouq Aminu, current Blazers forward, or Ime Udoka, a former teammate of Bryant’s and present assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, would win the pseudo contest. That would be really unfair to the other figures on the list; so we came down to a creative option and just thought “Mamba Memories” would suffice.

Well, enjoy the rest of the pictures in case you haven’t yet seen them.

Al-Farouq Aminu

Al-Farouq Aminu is a legit one-on-one defender and an NBA peer to Bryant before the latter’s retirement. For that fact, the 6’9 Nigerian forward was often assigned to guard Bryant whenever his team was going against the Lakers. That includes when he (Aminu) was with the former New Orleans Hornets, Pelicans, and the Portland Trailblazers. During the 2012 Olympic ride, Aminu guarded Bryant a few times even though Derrick Obasohan mostly had that herculean task placed on his shoulders.

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant ,24, misses a shot against Portland's Al-Farouq Aminu,8, during the third quarter at the Staples Center. Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, November,22, 2015. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)
Put your hands where my eyes can see.

Kobe Bryant in a mask drives on Al-Farouq Aminu

Ime Udoka

Perhaps, Ime Udoka is the only one on this list that has memories taken from different capacities with Kobe Bryant – as a teammate, as an opponent, and as a coach. Maybe we would have to ask him someday how he views Kobe from all three roles. The 6’5 Udoka played with Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers and also squared up against him a number of times when he played for Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, and Sacramento Kings. He has also served as a coach in assisting capacity to Head Coach Greg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs, which no doubt gave him the rare opportunity to coach guys against the Mamba.

ime udoka bryant kobe basketball within borders

kobe bryant ime udoka spurs basketball within borders

kobe bryant ime udoka lakers derek fisher basketball within borders

Hakeem Olajuwon

There’s something legendary about Hakeem Olajuwon besides the fine footprints he carved on the rocks of basketball history – if Michael Jordan and Bryant said it, then it is no doubt true. While we don’t need Jordan’s testament nor Mamba’s echoing of Olajuwon’s greatness to appreciate the Nigerian-born basketball legend, it is, nevertheless, important to put it out there every once in a while. Jordan credits Olajuwon as the best center ever in the history of basketball. Never mind that Jordan never went up against the likes of Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell; at least he squared up against the behemoths of his own era in Shaquille O’Neal, Patrick Ewing, and David Robinson. When asked to name the top five toughest players he’s ever faced in his entire twenty-year career, Bryant listed Olajuwon as one of his own most formidable opponents. And even though both players only faced-off a few times before Olajuwon hung his kicks for good, Bryant has worked under the tutelage of Olajuwon on aspects of his game, especially on footwork post-moves – a lethal component of Bryant’s array of skills for so many seasons.

kobe bryant hakeem olajuwon lakers rockets basketball within borders

kobe bryant olajuwon houston rockets lakers basketball within borders

kobe bryant hakeem olajuwon houston rockets basketball within borders

hakeem olajuwon kobe bryant lakers basketball within borders

Michael Olowokandi

For a few short years, Michael Olowokandi, former NBA player and the number one draft pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, was a neighbour to Bryant at the Staples Center before bouncing around the league. Well, let’s just hope that The Kandi Man, whom Kareem Abdul-Jabbar describes as “talented but uncoachable”, remembers some of those moments.

michael olowokandi clippers kobe bryant basketball within borders

kobe bryant olowokandi basketball within borders

olowokandi michael bryant kobe basketball within borders

Wally Skalij –– – 082444.SP.0527.lakers5.WJS Lakers kobe Bryant drives under the basket to score and be fouled by Timberwolves Michael Olowokandi in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at the Staples Center Thursday.

Festus Ezeli

Festus Ezeli has met Bryant a few times in his career. The 6’9 Nigerian-born center remembers the influence Kobe’s name had on him even before he (Festus) ever picked up a basketball. Shortly before Bryant’s last NBA game of his career, Ezeli penned an emotional open-letter, describing how his peers would shout “Kobe” as they mimicked shooting into imaginary baskets.

festus ezeli kobe bryant lakers warriors basketball within borders

festus ezeli kobe bryant basketball within borders

ezeli thompson kobe bryant basketball within borders

Ike Diogu

Before Ezeli played for the Golden State Warriors, another Nigerian played with the same organization. Ike Diogu spent two seasons with the Warriors and had the task of greeting Bryant at the paint a few times when his team played against Bryant’s Lakers. The two also met at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

ike diogu kobe bryant golden state warriors basketball within borders

ike diogu kobe bryant basketball within borders

Chamberlain Oguchi

Chamberlain Oguchi is one of the really great shooters in Nigerian basketball history. He has some of that venomous attribute that makes Bryant really deadly and it is still a surprise he has not gotten a legit shot at the NBA. The 6’5 shooting guard went head-t0-head on the floor against Bryant when the two met at the London 2012 Olympics. There’s no doubt that greatness knows greatness, and Oguchi was one of the few athletes of Nigerian descent that penned a note to express their thoughts when Bryant announced in December 2015 that he would be retiring at the end of the season.

chamberlain oguchi kobe bryant basketball within borders

Kobe-Bryant-Chamberlain-Oguchi-london-2012-olympic-games-usa-nigeria-dtigers-dtigers-basketball-within-borders-2016

Sani Ahmed

Never mind that they belong to two different basketball generations, but Sani Ahmed, one of the coaches on the D’Tigers roster at the 2012 London Olympics, showed that sports transcends age barriers when he captured a moment with Bryant notwithstanding the heated rivalry between the Nigerian basketball team and the United States team.

sanni ahmed kobe bryant london olympics basketball within borders

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Greek Freak, as he’s fondly called, may have opted to play for Greece despite his Nigerian background; nevertheless, he continues to impress as well as enjoy the admiration of Nigerian basketball fans. Antetokounmpo’s game reached new heights in the 2015/2016 NBA regular season and Bryant was one of the first persons that noticed. When the two met in their last NBA game, Bryant heaped praises on Antetokounmpo’s game to the surprise of the young lad.

giannis antetokounmpo kobe bryant milwaukee bucks los angeles lakers basketball within borders

kobe bryant giannis antetokounmpo bucks lakers basketball within borders

Udoka Azubuike

Udoka is the youngest of this class, but his superb dominance on the basketball court earned him enough respect to be out there and capture this special moment with Bryant. Let’s hope the young lad and new Kansas Jayhawk caught a hem of Bryant’s garment to enable him imbibe some of that insane work ethic.

TBT with the GOAT, RESPECT???, James harden in ?

A photo posted by Tim Udoka (@udoka_azubuike) on

 

Images: gettyimages.com; zimdo, nba pictures

Comments

comments

Adekunle Binuyo
Just a fanatical hoop head lost in the art and science of the game.
Adekunle Binuyo
Adekunle Binuyo
Adekunle Binuyo

Latest posts by Adekunle Binuyo (see all)

About Adekunle Binuyo

Just a fanatical hoop head lost in the art and science of the game.

Check Also

Pelicans looking to restructure after parting ways with Demps

The New Orleans Pelicans announced on Friday 16th February that they had come to a ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.