Jewell Loyd is one of a handful of athletes carrying on the legacy Kobe Bryant left of connecting with the next generation of hoops lovers and players. But few know that legacy as intimately as Loyd. Over the past several years, Loyd has worked with NBA assistant Phil Handy, who was a close confidante and trainer for Bryant and now serves on the Lakers coaching staff.
Now, Loyd is partnering with Handy and the app he developed through his training business, 94FEETOFGAME, to develop workouts for young women learning basketball. Loyd’s contribution is called the Gold Mamba Workout, in which she takes viewers through simulated game routines that they may see on the court. She is also giving away 24 items from her Gold Mamba apparel company to app users in a tribute to Bryant.
It’s just one way Loyd hopes to develop the pipeline of young female basketball players and give them tools she didn’t have growing up.
“We know that in high school and even younger girls drop out of sports, so trying to (help that age group) is super important to me,” Loyd told Dime this week. “And I do a lot of giving back, so (Phil) was like, why don’t you focus on the women’s side and present workouts and ideas, concepts that I use on my daily training, to give back. That’s kind of how it started, just an idea, something we’re both passionate about.”
When Bryant was still alive, he frequently made visits to WNBA team facilities, league events, and often spoke with the UConn women’s basketball team, where his late daughter Gianna hoped to play. That’s the elite of the elite, where Bryant could make the biggest impact, but through projects like the app and Loyd’s workout, the impact is at the grassroots level and can reach more people.
“Growing up, I didn’t really train,” Loyd explained. “I just always played outside. I was always at the park. But for basketball, there were no apps, there was no platform where I can interact with superstars and help me refine my game, because that wasn’t a thing. We just went out there and played our game.”
Technology has made it much easier to access information and connect with people, and the reach of Handy’s company made it a no-brainer. Growing the game wasn’t Bryant’s only goal, either; he was constantly trying to develop the more technical aspects of players’ games and build out a nice for fans to connect more with the wonky parts of the game.
That’s what Handy continues to do today, and it’s a vacuum Loyd has observed in how basketball is taught and digested as well. Inexperienced players can freeze up either because of too much or too little information, because their coaches and trainers didn’t personalize the learning touch.
“Sometimes they just want to throw things at you and (act like) everyone goes through the same exact workout and that’s just not true,” Loyd said. “With Phil and our workouts, it eliminates that because you’re training your instincts, which I think is a big part of sports, but also knowing how and when to use your moves.”
After Bryant passed away last January, many in NBA media explained how Bryant would meet with them privately to preach the importance of covering the game through all its intricacies. Through his ESPN+ show Detail, Bryant led by example, deconstructing the game to its most basic components in an understandable way. A key part of that entire effort, though, is teaching young players how to develop the small pieces of their game and the work ethic to bring it out of themselves.
As for Loyd, a more refined approach helped her have the most efficient season of her career in the “Wubble” in 2021 and help the Seattle Storm to their second championship in three seasons. Cap constraints led the Storm to trade two key pieces over the offseason, however, leading to uncertainty over how the team might defend its title.
Loyd isn’t worried. While starting forward Natasha Howard may be gone along with sharpshooter Sami Whitcomb, the Storm still kept their Big Three of Loyd, Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird intact. With that core, Loyd believes they can beat anybody.
“We’ll get to camp and we’ll figure out pieces, but you know it’s also a business, and you understand that,” Loyd said. “I think for us it’s very rare to have a team that stays together for six and seven years, and a lot of us were together for a long time.”