Sunday, January 26, 2020

My Brush With Kobe Bryant

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

It brings to mind a small Kobe Bryant incident that I witnessed up close.

Some years back I was in Los Angeles on business for a week, just before the start of that year's NBA season. I noticed in The Los Angeles Times that the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers were going to play back-to-back scrimmage games at Staples Center in downtown L.A. and that the games were open to the public

Since I was staying in a hotel downtown, I decided to check the games out.

It was a sparse crowd and I took a seat about three rows up from the court across from the Lakers bench.

There was one man sitting in the row behind me and then about two or three rows higher were two girls about 18 or 19 years old.

We were all sitting close to the aisle.

As the players were taking warm-up shots, Kobe walked over to our side of the court and then started to climb up the steps. The girls stood up excitedly and wanted to take a picture with Kobe. He shook them off and said, "I have to talk to this man," and pointed to the guy behind me. "After I finish," he said.

It wasn't clear if he was blowing off the girls or just respecting the time of the man behind me.

He then sat down and talked to the man who, judging by the conversation, was a sports reporter. They talked for about 15 minutes. He then got up and headed down the steps but stopped after three steps and seemingly remembered that he had promised to pose for a photograph with the girls. He turned around and headed back up the steps and posed for a couple of photos, making the girls very happy  that evening.

Respect for other people's time and for a promise, that is what I remember about Kobe.

And save the comments below about the rape charge made aginst him that was eventually dropped. I have no idea what happened and neither do you. Though I do note that following the rape charge, he said that it was a Catholic priest that helped him during that period.




  1. Very nice. And never speak badly of the dead. Damn shame though. And his young daughter. Tragic.

  2. Sad sad sad. Terrible. Very sorry for his family. One of the very best to ever do it. I’ll never forget his first game against Michael Jordan, the GOAT. Jordan has released a really heartfelt message for Kobe’s family today.

  3. Same way Stevie Ray Vaughn went. Low visibility in a helicopter. Hope they didn't see it coming.

  4. I didn't know Kobe was Catholic & I don't follow sports, but he fought for his marriage after his wife filed for divorce in 2011, and they reconciled. That's a good dedicated man. They then had 2 more daughters. He was reportedly seen at Mass today before the crash.

    2 b-ball stories of mine:
    I once saw Dennis Rodman in Newport beach while walking my dog. He was outside malarky's Irish pub arguing with his blonde girlfriend, sitting literally on the curb of the gutter next to his hummer. The girl saw my samoyed dog & went gaa-gaa over my dog petting her, to which a stoned-looking Rodman looked very annoyed . It was funny. He lives on the boardwalk. I was tempted to snap their photo & sell it to tmz, but rodman had just been in the news for kicking a photog in the groin, severely injuring him.

    2. I was at the June 2000 Lakers championship gave VS the Indiana Pacers at the staples center & there was a riot afterwards. I viewed the whole thing myself & the LAPD started that riot.
    I never would have believed it if I hadn't witnessed the whole thing myself. I still have the audio because I worked at a radio station & was doing interviews. The cops coralled us & forced us to go towards a burning cbs2 newsvan. Some of the people with me were personal guests of the nba players. I interviewed them while it was happening. They would not let us leave. The lapd were insane lunatics & it was a life-changing experience.

  5. It reminds me of when Stevie Ray Vaughn died. I still feel stunned over that, to this day. I'm sure for sports fans, this is very similar (although SRV was at his peak at the time, and had many years of productivity left).

  6. Wait a minute... Why was the helicopter flying in unsafe weather and making erratic maneuvers while kids were on board? There's something more to the story, and I suspect someone to blame here. An irresponsible pilot? Did Kobe demand that the pilot fly in unsafe weather? His legacy could be affected here.