Kobe Bryant, the former NBA superstar, has not been shy when asked about his views on the American system of teaching kids basketball.
He hates the AAU culture.
"AAU basketball – horrible, terrible AAU basketball," Bryant said to a group of reporters in a now infamous 2016 interview. "It’s stupid. It doesn’t teach our kids how to play the game at all, so you wind up having players that are big and they bring it up and they do all this fancy crap and they don’t know how to post. They don’t know the fundamentals of the game. It’s stupid."
Now retired and with seemingly more time on his hands, Bryant has started what he’s calling the Mamba League in Los Angeles. He wants to change the culture. The Mamba league has 40 coaches and 288 players, 45 percent of whom are female. The league ran from February to April and was for young kids.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The kids played on 9-foot goals, one foot lower than regulation, and on courts that are not as big as you’d find at your local Y. The league is heavy on fundamentals, fun and instruction.
Bryant, who didn’t play on a 10-foot regulation goal until he was 12, wants kids to learn the game the right way -- and to not be rushed.
"Right now, I think we’re putting too much pressure on these kids too early, and they’re not learning proper technique of how to shoot the ball, or proper technique of spacing," Bryant told Yahoo Sports. "It winds up eating away at their confidence. As teachers, we need to have patience to teach things piece by piece by piece. Over time, they’ll develop as basketball players, but you can’t just rush it all at once."
Next year, Bryant hopes to take the Mamba League nationwide.