18 Journalists and Broadcasters Share Their Favorite Kobe Bryant Stories
Kobe Bryant announced back in November that he’ll be retiring at the end of the 2015-16 season. Now that the end is actually on the horizon, just about every player, coach, reporter, broadcaster, and writer who has ever worked alongside the guy is starting to reflect on his legendary NBA career. And the result is that some pretty great Kobe Bryant stories are coming to light, such as the one Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue shared earlier this week about the time Kobe Bryant wanted to fight him.
Now the folks over at Complex have put together a compilation of 18 journalists and broadcasters sharing their favorite Kobe stories from the last 20 years. And it is pretty fantastic.
For example, there’s ESPN writer Arash Markazi talking about the time he saw Kobe leaving a hotel gym after a full workout at 5am the day of a game:
“2009 NBA Finals in Orlando, going into the clinching game, Game 5. I was covering for Sports Illustrated at the time and they put me up at the team hotel. I had been out with some other reporters, and I came back to the hotel and saw Kobe Bryant in the hotel lobby bar at 2AM, sipping on a Corona, talking to his friends, enjoying himself. I went back up to my hotel room, but couldn’t really sleep that night, so I took a walk around the hotel around 4 or 5 in the morning, and I see Kobe leaving the hotel gym in a full sweat, and the sun wasn’t even out yet. I had heard all these stories about Kobe’s insane training, but you never know if those are real or hyperbole. Then I had that experience. They clinched the next day.”
Then there’s TWC SportsNet reporter Mike Trudell talking about the time he played ping pong with Kobe in Detroit on Thanksgiving:
“Thanksgiving 2013, and the team was in Detroit. None of us had plans. We thought we were going to have Thanksgiving alone. So, Kobe basically made sure that one of the ballrooms was open and had a fully catered Thanksgiving meal for everybody. Inside this room there’s a Ping-Pong table and some of us are playing, and I grew up with a Ping-Pong table, so I’m pretty good. At some point, Kobe makes a comment about one of the players I had just beaten. So I said, ‘Kobe if you want to, I’m happy to give some to you next.’ So, we play the first game and you can tell he can play, but he’s not a super experienced Ping-Pong player, so I sense a couple weaknesses and beat him rather handedly the first game. He is talking a bit of shit, mostly just calling me a MF-er. But, the reason I’m telling this story is not as a humble brag but because during the entire game, he was literally watching every point and learning as the game is going on. So, we get done with the game, and he wants to go again. Now, I beat him again the second time, but he got much closer. Within 5 minutes, he was taking the Ping-Pong game so seriously, and I thought, this is why he’s so great at basketball. I’ve never competed against anybody in anything, and I played a D1 sport, that felt as intense as that Ping-Pong game.”
And of course there’s L.A. Times writer Eric Pincus talking about the time Kobe gave him baby-making advice:
“There was one thing, years ago, I had two girls and we were talking about how we were going to try to have a third. And, he told me that to have a boy, I need to keep my socks on with my wife…that was his advice. I did not listen, and I have a third girl.”
All too often our sports legends are just two-dimensional caricatures. It’s nice when you can read stories about what they’re actually like behind the scenes—especially when it’s somebody as mercurial and enigmatic as Kobe Bryant.
To check out the 15 other Kobe Bryant stories, head on over to Complex.