In 2016, The Sports Academy was launched and two years later, Kobe Bryant collaborated with CEO Chad Faulkner and renamed the sports training company the “Mamba Sports Academy.”
After nearly four months since Kobe’s death in a helicopter crash, Faulkner announced that he wants to “respect a legacy” by removing the “Mamba” name and going back to calling it “The Sports Academy.”
Talking to The Undefeated, Faulkner gave an explanation on a decision that’ll no doubt confuse many people. Typically, someone is honored by putting their name on a building, not taking that away.
“Our beliefs and thoughts are Kobe is one of one. ‘Mamba’ is one of one,” Faulkner told The Undefeated. “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.
“We were fortunate to learn from Kobe. We will carry on much of those learnings that we have in a respectful way.”
That still seems like a strange way to honor somebody but I guess we all grieve and remember people in different ways. Faulkner noted that he would be “all for” building a memorial at both Thousand Oaks and Redondo Beach, California facilities but said that he would only do it with the blessing of the Bryant family.
“That will really end up being up to the desires of the family and to the respect of the family,” Faulkner said. “For us, we leave that up to the future. This is such a critical time for the family to keep working through the grieving process and everything they’re working for. We are going to play really conservative from that approach. We are all for it. … But it’s really not necessarily the right thing for us to do proactively.”
Personally, I still can’t understand why it’s somehow better to take somebody’s name (or nickname) off a building in order to “honor” them but Faulkner seemed to really want to respect family wishes and want to work with them when they feel the time is right. In that way, you have to imagine Faulkner’s heart is in the right place, even if you may not understand or agree with his decision.