Kobe Bryant has nothing against children dancing, even if it means they choose it over other activities such as, say, basketball.
The Lakers legend has been trying to convince us of that since Wednesday, when many people thought he was shaming a girl for missing a basketball game so she could take part in a dance recital.
Apparently those efforts haven’t been working out so well, because on Thursday morning Bryant unleashed upon Instagram what could only be a last resort: a video of himself at age 12 dancing onstage to the music of Vanilla Ice.
Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.
“When I was 12, I skipped basketball for two weeks so I could dance in a school show,” wrote Bryant, who is wearing neon green in the video. “I’m all about diversifying while young, then locking in on your passion.”
Bryant has been coaching an AAU girls basketball team — called the Mambas, of course — for years. This week on Instagram, the retired NBA star has posting about how much his players have improved during that time.
On Monday, Bryant posted a photo of the girls in uniform, jumping gleefully in front of a scoreboard that revealed a 115-27 outcome in their favor. “Two years ago we lost to the same team 22-21,” Bryant wrote.
The next day, Bryant posted a photo of a fourth-place trophy from a 2017 tournament. “I asked what they planned on doing with the 4th place trophy they had just ‘won’ and they all said ‘throw it away,’” Bryant wrote. “I told them instead to put it somewhere in their room where it would be the first thing they see when they wake up to remind themselves what they will never ‘win’ again.”
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2 years ago, my little Mambas lost a game by 20, 25 and 40. I asked what they planned on doing with the 4th place trophy they had just “won” and they all said “throw it away”. I told them instead to put it somewhere in their room where it would be the first thing they see when they wake up to remind themselves what they will never “win” again. We will win some and lose some but we will continue to do THE WORK. Cry about it or be about it was my message. They chose to be about it #mambamentality
That post received high praise. “We think so much alike,” WNBA legend Lisa Leslie wrote.
A third post on the subject, however, didn’t go over as well. It featured a photo of Bryant, two other adults and the young players after that tournament two years ago. The girls were all holding their fourth-place trophies and not a soul in the picture was smiling.
In his original caption for the photo, Bryant seemed to call out one player on the team who was not in the photo because she “missed this game for a dance recital.”
“So that should tell you where her focus was at that time,” Bryant wrote.
Bryant has been trying to explain himself ever since, saying on Twitter: “if it came across as a slight, trust me it wasn’t. I was just giving the reason for her not being in the pic. They chose not to smile for the pic I actually followed their lead. Our team has become family and this includes the 7th player.”
sorry if it came across as a slight, trust me it wasn’t. I was just giving the reason for her not being in the pic. They chose not to smile for the pic I actually followed their lead. Our team has become family and this includes the 7th player— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) September 11, 2019
“Most of my kids on the team played and still play other sports including my daughter so it’s all love,” he replied to another Twitter user. “Don’t misunderstand the message.”
He also amended his Instagram post to mention that the girl “enjoyed dance more than ball which is fine” and added that these days “she eats sleeps and breaths the game.”
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Here’s our fourth place “winners” picture lol six of the kids in the picture stayed with me and worked every single day to get better and continue to work to this day. The 7th player (not in pic) missed this game for a dance recital so that should tell you where her focus was at this time, meaning she enjoyed dance more than ball which is fine. Now? She eats sleeps and breaths the game. So from this original group of 7 we have added a player TWO years YOUNGER (6th grade now), a player who’s team in our area folded and a player who’s family moved here from Tennessee. The beauty of coaching is growing the players from the ground up. That journey continues #mambas #2yearsago
All of which led us to the video of the young Kobester showing off his best dance moves to the sweet sounds of “Ice Ice Baby” — proof positive that Kobe Bean Bryant is just fine with kids skipping basketball to dance.
Or at least the five-time NBA champion was fine with it until someone who uses the Instagram handle likelyjustin chimed in with this comment: “If you had skipped this you’d probably have 7 rings.”
Dude, you don’t joke with the Mamba like that.