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#pounditWednesday, October 4, 2023

NBA referee Zach Zarba shares incredible Kobe Bryant story

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant could be a bit tough on referees, as Zach Zarba once found out.

The veteran NBA referee shared a story from one of his first years in the league, in what he called his “welcome to the NBA moment.” Zarba was officiating a Los Angeles Lakers game in the mid-2000s with a younger Kobe Bryant playing. Bryant complained to Zarba constantly about missing a shooting foul.

Zarba said he went in at halftime and looked at the video of the play in question, which proved Bryant right. Bryant’s reaction to being informed of that fact was priceless.

“When you tell a player and you drop your guard and say, ‘Hey, I missed that play,’ 90 percent of the time the player is going to say: ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. You’ll get the next one.’ That’s the kind of working environment,” Zarba told Sopan Deb of the New York Times. “I come back out and walk up to Kobe and say: ‘Kobe, you were right. You did get hit on the elbow.’ He looked dead at me and I’m expecting a pat on the butt or whatever. He looked at me stone-faced and said, ‘Get it together.'”

We’ve heard some fantastic Kobe stories since his untimely death in January. Count this as one of them. One can only imagine what other things referees heard while working his games.


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