Notre Dame junior guard Arike Ogunbowale is the biggest name in college basketball right now, men’s or women’s.
This past Sunday, she drained a buzzer beating game winning three pointer to give Notre Dame the national championship against Mississippi State. Ogunbowale also drained another game winning buzzer beater to beat UConn in the national semifinals last Friday. After scoring a combined 45 points in the Women’s Final Four, Ogunbowale was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Women’s Final Four.
On Friday, Ogunbowale was a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She mentioned that retired NBA star Kobe Bryant was her idol. Before she knew it, DeGeneres brought Bryant to the show where the Fighting Irish star met him for the first time. Bryant went on to tell DeGeneres that he was a UConn fan and gave an autographed Lakers jersey to Ogunbowale.
In an article by Mike Anthony of The Hartford Courant, Bryant spoke about his appreciation for the Huskies while attending the Women’s Final Four last week with his family:
The fluidity with which they play, because they all play for each other,” Bryant said Wednesday by phone. “There’s not a lot of dribbling. It’s ‘we know how to play with each other.’ And, continuously. You don’t see them having to stop the game and put people in the right places. That ball moves, and they go. They know how to recognize and read a defense and I think that’s attributed to Geno understanding that it’s way more important to teach players how to fish instead of telling them where the fish are.”
And even though Ogunbowale spoiled the Huskies’ otherwise unblemished season, Bryant recognized her “Mamba mentality.”
Big time shot Arike! We are a @UConnWBB family but we love seeing great players making great plays. I know my lil sis @jewellloyd is happy Well done @ndwbb good luck on Sunday #mambamentality https://t.co/8DxHkNURN7— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 31, 2018
And finally, Bryant spoke about his appreciation for women’s basketball. From Anthony’s piece:
“It’s just a beautiful game,” Bryant said. “For people that call themselves basketball fans and say, ‘Well, I don’t watch women’s basketball,’ you don’t like the basketball game, you like the entertainment. You like high-flying dunks. So don’t call yourself a basketball fan. Call yourself an entertainment fan. Because real basketball fans find the beauty in the game, and there’s beauty there.”
Ogunbowale and Bryant had another segment together, where they played against each other in a game of 2 on 2 of “Battle of the Sexes.” Ogunbowale and DeGeneres were on the same team, while Bryant teamed up with rapper Ice Cube. Ogunbowale and DeGeneres won, 2-0 in the short scrimmage.
It wasn’t just a great week for Ogunbowale, but it was also great for the retired NBA legend and future Hall of Famer. As they say, “greatness recognizes greatness,” or in this case, #MambaMentality recognizes #MambaMentality!