Recently, Kobe Bryant proudly shared a photo of his daughter's AAU basketball team, which he coached to a crazy 115-27 blowout win at a weekend tournament.
The backstory of the celebratory image — as told by the Mamba in the caption — is highly motivational, particularly the squad's drastic improvement in two years. Apparently, there was more to their road to victory than that, and the NBA legend was gracious enough to spill the beans in his latest Instagram post.
The problem is, it seemed like Kobe was calling out one of his players, who failed to attend the game at the time because of another extracurricular activity.
He wrote: "Here's our fourth place 'winners' picture lol six of the kids in the picture stayed with me and worked every single day to get better and continue to work to this day. The 7th player (not in pic) missed this game for a dance recital so that should tell you where her focus was at this time, meaning she enjoyed dance more than ball which is fine. Now? She eat sleeps and breaths the game. So from this original group of 7 we have added a player TWO years YOUNGER (6th grade now), a player who's team in our area folded and a player who's family moved here from Tennessee. The beauty of coaching is growing the players from the ground up. That journey continues #mambas."
Making things worse was the collective disappointed look on their faces.
While his former NBA colleagues such as Isaiah Thomas, Tobias Harris, and Jermaine O'Neal understood the message behind the throwback photo, some of the five-time champion's 10.2 IG followers and most news outlets thought that "throwing shade at a little girl" is just too much Mamba Mentality.
Kobe quickly shut down talks of him shaming a kid, even going out of his way to respond personally to his critics. As for the team's somber mood, he explained, "Some kids hate losing, bro. And that's okay. They have worked hard to improve because of it."
The Los Angeles Lakers lifer even tweeted an alternate photo of the team — this time all smiles — to rest his case.