The Sports Academy is planning to honor Kobe Bryant's legacy by removing "Mamba" from its name, at the request of his estate. "Mamba," which is the Los Angeles Lakers icon's on-court nickname, was first added to the name of The Sports Academy in 2018 after Bryant partnered with the organization, TMZ reports.
Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January along with his daughter Gianna and seven others, was very involved with the Academy. On the day of their crash, Kobe and Gianna were traveling to an Academy facility in Thousand Oaks, California.
Founder and CEO Chad Faulkner said that the company would be making significant changes in light of his death.
"Today, with respect for an unparalleled legacy, the Academy will retire the 'Mamba' in the Mamba Sports Academy name -- to raise it to the rafters, where it belongs," he said in a statement.
In an interview with ESPN's Undefeated, Faulkner further clarified why they had decided to remove "Mamba" from the institution's name."Our beliefs and thoughts are Kobe is one of one. 'Mamba' is one of one. And with that as we carry on as The Sports Academy, it's more appropriate to put Kobe in another Hall of Fame, if you will, and to really respect a legacy that is really unrivaled, frankly, and let that live on its own. We will continue to do the work we do," Faulkner said.
The founder continued by saying that Bryant had taught the company a lot during his time working with them, and they would take those lessons forward.
Even as Faulkner argues that removing the "Mamba" name is the best way to honor Bryant, there are others who think that continuing to use the name would draw more potential young athletes into the facility, TMZ reports.
As of right now, the name has been changed online, and the Academy is also making plans to change the name at its locations in Thousand Oaks and Redondo Beach.
In a 2014 interview with The New Yorker, Bryant explained how he had chosen the moniker "Black Mamba," saying that its origins came from Quentin Tarantino's 2003 film Kill Bill. In the interview, the NBA legend said that he adopted the nickname so that people would separate his life on the court from his life off of it. He compared it to Bruce Banner's transformation into The Incredible Hulk, explaining that the Hulk is totally distinct from the man he shares a body with.