It's not just a colorful name, or even an ode to Bryant's lethal barrage on the opposition.
He actually hisses on the basketball court whenever he wants a touch.
According to Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford, it's something that you just can't prepare for.
"Everybody tells you he’s gonna do it before you play him—like, ‘Wait till you hear him do this.' And then he [does] it, and it’s like, what? He’s really a mamba. It sounds like some kind of snake," Crawford said on ESPN's Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable (via Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post).
And when one of Kobe's Twitter followers asked if Crawford's claim is true, he confirmed it:
Kobe Bryant @kobebryant
“@DontCallMeRhino:@kobebryant yo @JCrossover said you hiss when you ball him up.How true is that?”that's how I call for the ball #mambahiss2013-2-9 04:07:27
(Note: The fan mistakenly credited Jamal Crawford with this revelation.)
For me, the only thing scarier than the prospect of guarding one of the league's greatest scorers is matching up with a 34-year-old man literally hissing for the basketball. Anyone doubting the psychological effects of this actually taking place just needs to realize one thing—it's actually brought up in the pregame scouting report.
Then again, what else do you tell a young player tasked with guarding Bryant for the first time? That he's got a three-point shot, a nasty turnaround jumper, posterizing potential at any given moment?
Why waste your breath? Why not just a "The guy hisses like a snake during the game so...good luck with that"?
I'd love to say this comes as a surprise, but I can't. Bryant is just a different type of guy. An all-world, all-time great for sure, but a different breed nevertheless.
Maybe this is more than a ploy for adding just another edge that the supremely gifted scorer doesn't need. Maybe it's a strategic business practice, a viral campaign led by a venomous assassin.
Here's one thing I can say with certainty: The "Black Mamba" moniker is clearly not just a clever name.