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Kobe Bryant – Black Mamba

This 2011 commercial for Nike highlights the LA Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, nicknamed “The Black Mamba”. Bryant is depicted as a fierce figure – strong, aggressive and dominant. It befits his dangerous nickname – the Black Mamba is the longest venomous snake in Africa.


Some of the most high profile African Americans in public and media culture are athletes, with Kobe Bryant one of the most famous. What are the implications of having athletes featured as some of the most prominent African Americans in society? Is this a positive thing? Negative? A mixed bag?

What are some of the characteristics associated with Kobe Bryant in this ad? Do you see similar depictions of other athletes?

Do you think Bryant’s race plays any role in the type of marketing product that is created around his persona? In what ways?

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