James Harden Talks Influence of Kobe Bryant's Black Mamba Mentality and Always Going For "One More"

In an exclusive HYPEBEAST conversation on how the mentality propels the latest BODYARMOR campaign.

Food & Beverage 
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James Harden shows that he is a jack-of-all-trades with his continued partnership with BODYARMOR Sports Drink.

As an NBA veteran, Harden is the prime example of a player who understands that hard work off the court is just as important on the court. His latest involvement in the campaign for BODYARMOR, follows the premise of going for “One More” shot, an idea that focuses on always putting in that extra dose of effort to perfect one’s craft. Harden joins Naomi Osaka, Trae Young, Sabrina Ionescu, Dustin Johnson and more in a spot that highlights the belief that hard work, determination, and passion pushes everyone to be at their best.

Harden sits down with HYPEBEAST for an exclusive interview surrounding how he has taken this motto and applied it to his professional and business life. The Beard also gives insight as to how legend Kobe Bryant, an early investor in the company prior to his death, affected his worth ethic. The impact of the Black Mamba mentality is discussed in length and provides fans a glimpse of how Bryant’s way of thinking is still a guiding force amongst his peers in the industry.

“On the court, everybody knows how special Kobe was, but he was just as special off the court too.”

HYPEBEAST: How did you initially get involved with BODYARMOR?

James Harden: My team brought me an opportunity to be a part of a sports drink that was basically starting up. Now, we are the top sports drink in the world. I just know that from the hard work from the very beginning, it has been a testament to the vision that each and everybody had in this brand. We are just getting started. We got a long way to go.

The premise of the campaign sees athletes like yourself, Trae Young, Naomi Osaka, Sabrina Ionescu speak to the overall theme of perseverance and hard work – going for “One more shot” – is that a nod to the Black Mamba mentality?

Yeah, I think it is. We are some of the best athletes in our respective sports. That “one more” mentality, that “one more” mindset – whether you’re in the weight room or with whatever sport you play, or just in life in general – that “one more,” is basically you pushing yourself through to get it done by any means necessary. I feel like that correlates with the brain, as well. All of that ties together and comes together. I think that’s why we’re so authentic.

How does BODYARMOR differ from other sports drinks?

As far as sports drinks goes, our ingredients have additional electrolytes, vitamins and coconut water. There are no artificial flavors and I think those are what separate the drink as a part of sports training. If you’re talking about health, an athlete needs the proper things stored into their body to be able to perform at the highest level. So, you take that into something that actually tastes good and you have this new wave. No brainer.

Kobe Bryant was an early investor in the brand and its creative director at one point – how do you see yourself carrying on the legacy of Kobe, as someone who has believed in the brand so much, early on?

To carry on the legacy of Kobe is very, very, very difficult because he was just one-of-one. But for me, I think I try to help with the creative process and the branding and to keep it moving forward. We are definitely going to skyrocket so it’s about finding ways to keep things going.

Has there been a particular lesson you learned from Kobe that sticks with you the most – be it in basketball or business?

Not as far as business because we were just beginning to start that side of the ship and it didn’t get too far. On the court, everybody knows how special Kobe was, but he was just as special off the court too. He was starting to have that same passion and that same detailed focus for his business mindset.

The Black Mamba mentality is obviously something that many people associate with Kobe. Has that influenced your playing and your current transition from the Nets to the 76ers?

The “one more” mentality is always my thought process and my detailed focus every single day. I feel like the idea of “one more” pushes you over the top if most people are complacent and comfortable where they are. But if you had that “one more” mentality, that really pushes you over the top to where the greats are, in sports and life in general.

As more and more athletes venture into different avenues of business, how do you think athletes’ roles have changed over time?

I think the main focus of an athlete is to be one of the best at whatever sport. That’s never going to change. You being an athlete, you compete and you work every single day to be great at your craft is priority number one. I think nowadays what’s added on to that is social media and athletes having a voice and being able to express themselves. Social media enhances your voice and it allows you to go on your own individual platform and voice whatever you want to talk about.

You have been a veteran in the NBA for many years. Do you have any advice on how young players when it comes to career longevity and progression?

Be the student of the game and continue to just be a great person. Nowadays, there’s so much that is going on and I keep harping back on social media. But, I think people just see things and expect them to happen without putting the work in. Before social media, you have to grind and put in the work and then great things will happen to you.

People expect so much because they see people having it on social media from the outside. Looking in, it looks like they have, but in reality, it’s not what it seems. So my advice would just be to continue to work hard and let the game speak for itself.

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