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Lakers legend Jerry West reveals trash talk with Kobe Bryant on ‘Black Mamba’ nickname

Lakers, Kobe Bryant, Jerry West

Aside from being one of the greatest players in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry West was also a star executive for the franchise.

While serving as general manager for the Lakers, West laid the foundation for a dynasty when he hired Phil Jackson as the team’s head coach, signed center Shaquille O’Neal, and traded center Vlade Divac for Kobe Bryant on draft night.

In an interview for an ESPN tribute to Bryant, who passed away in a tragic helicopter crash last year, West talked about how he saw the five-time champion’s greatness even as a teenager out of Lower Merion High School. While Kobe was aware of the history of the game and respected the game’s greatest players, West revealed that he also engaged Bryant in some trash talk, including about his nickname, The Black Mamba.

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West recalls that after the 18-time All Star named himself The Black Mamba, he asked him if he was aware of the mongoose and how they are able to easily kill the venomous snake after which he named himself. Bryant, never one to back down, answered that he is no ordinary black mamba, with West answering right back that he is no ordinary mongoose either.

But more than his playful banter with Bryant, West turned emotional when asked how he’ll remember the two-time Finals MVP, saying that he “loved him like a son and admired his talent,” and added that his untimely passing “took its toll on a lot of people, especially those who cared for him.”