Kobe Bryant really had a great relationship with Michael Jordan, and that became even more evident thanks to episode 5 of “The Last Dance” documentary aired by ESPN.
The episode was dedicated to Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January. The episode began with Jordan talking some trash about Kobe before the 1998 NBA All-Star Game. Despite the trash talk, Jordan really did respect Bryant and even mentored him because he thought so highly of the late former Laker.
Bryant was even interviewed for the documentary and shared how much Jordan meant to him. Bryant credited MJ for being a big factor in the five championships Bryant won.
“At that point, Michael provided a lot of guidance for me,” Bryant said of MJ helping him in 1998. “Like I had a question about shooting the turnaround shot, so I asked him about it. He gave me a great, detailed answer, but on top of that, he said, ‘if you ever need anything, give me a call.’ He’s like my big brother.
“I truly hate having discussions about who would win 1-on-1. Fans saying, ‘you would beat Michael 1-on-1.’ I feel like what you get from me is from him. I don’t get five championships without him because he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice.”
Kobe idolized Jordan. He tried to play like him, talk like him, lead like him, and win like him. Even his love letter to basketball was just like Jordan’s. Everything Kobe got from Jordan probably explains why Bryant wanted to help pass down all his knowledge to younger players upon Bryant’s retirement.
Michael Jordan was a great mentor to Kobe Bryant and treated the late former Los Angeles Lakers star as a little brother. But that doesn’t mean MJ didn’t have a point to prove to Kobe back in the day.
Episode 5 of “The Last Dance” documentary that aired on ESPN Sunday night began with a focus on the 1998 NBA All-Star Game. Footage in the documentary showed Jordan talking before the game about how Kobe was on a mission to go after everyone.
“That little Laker boy’s gonna take everyone one-on-one. He don’t let the game come to him. He just take it,” said Jordan.
MJ then trash-talked Kobe a bit for ball-hogging.
“After the first four attempts? If I was his teammate, I wouldn’t pass him the f—ing ball! ‘You want this ball again brother, you better rebound!'” Jordan joked about what his message would be to Kobe.
Of course, Bryant did earn Jordan’s respect and was able to learn so much from the former Bulls legend. But in 1998, that was only Kobe’s second season in the league. Bryant was just 19 years old, coming off the bench for the Lakers, and playing in his first All-Star Game. He felt he had a lot to prove at the time, and that’s why he went out there with the edgy attitude that helped him develop into a star. It’s also why Kobe got revenge on Michael several years later.
The already popular documentary series “The Last Dance” was made possible by camera crews being granted incredible access to the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, and it has given fans an opportunity to learn things about Michael Jordan’s legendary career that were not previously public information. Could we one day see a similar documentary about Kobe Bryant’s final NBA season?
Bryant had his own personal camera crew following the Los Angeles Lakers’ every move during the 2015-16 season, which was Kobe’s last in the NBA. According to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, the crew had “unprecedented access” even beyond what the Lakers’ television partners were granted. As one former team staffer described to Holmes, there was always the option to tell camera crews from TV networks to stop recording if they were gathering footage in an off-limits area or if the cameras were rolling at an uncomfortable time. Bryant’s crew, however, essentially did whatever it wanted.
Former Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. was reminded of that season while watching “The Last Dance” on Sunday night, and he described the experience to Holmes.
“It was like, ‘All right, we got to really watch what we’re saying, watch what we’re talking about, because you have no idea who’s watching or editing this,'” Nance said. “That’s something we all kind of talked about as a team is like, ‘Hey, you never know where this is going. So let’s just keep it mellow around the cameras.’
“But then the longer the year went on, you just forget about them and just kind of stopped caring.”
There was likely plenty of behind-the-scenes drama in Kobe’s final season with the Lakers, though the situation was much different from what went on with the 1997-98 Bulls. Whereas Chicago won its sixth championship the season camera crews were following the team, the Lakers went 17-65 in Kobe’s final year. Bryant missed several games due to injury, and cameras were even given the rare privilege of access to the training room.
Sources told Holmes Kobe wanted control over the footage and had seen edited material and provided feedback in the months before he died in a helicopter crash. The plan was for a potential documentary to be released years from now, which could reportedly still happen.
Bryant was one of the most polarizing figures in sports history, so any documentary about his final NBA season would have been must-see TV even with him alive. Now that he has died, fan interest will almost certainly be even higher if and when the film or series is completed.
We have already seen some incredible content featuring Jordan in “The Last Dance,” and fans can only hope for a similar gift of behind-the-scenes footage from Kobe’s career.
Big changes are coming to the NBA G League, and Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy may be involved.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the G League’s new “Select Team,” featuring prep stars skipping college to play in the developmental league, is exploring using the Mamba Academy as its headquarters starting in the 2020-21 season.
Nothing is official, but the prep stars involved — including Jalen Green and Isaiah Todd — are operating under the assumption that the Mamba Academy will be their home base.
Former NBA coaches Sam Mitchell and David Fizdale are being considered as potential head coaches. It has been reported that Mitchell is considered the frontrunner.
Targeting the Mamba Academy facilities, which have been used to train players of all ages, is another sign of how serious this endeavor is. The G League is very serious about adding this pathway for prep stars, and have shown it in their planning so far.
Shareef O’Neal was one of the last people Kobe Bryant reached out to before the Los Angeles Lakers legend died in a helicopter crash earlier this year, and O’Neal says that has been a great source of motivation for him over the past several months.
Bryant checked in on O’Neal, who is the son of Shaquille O’Neal, the morning of the helicopter crash. Kobe sent Shareef a text message asking him, “You good fam?” O’Neal opened up about what that meant to him in a recent interview with B/R Hoops, and he said he now has a screenshot of the text saved as the background on his phone.
O’Neal announced just days before Kobe’s death that he was transferring from UCLA, so Kobe may have been checking in on him to see how things were going with that. O’Neal also took a medical redshirt as a freshman after doctors discovered he had a heart condition for which he underwent surgery.
While Shaq has indicated he has regrets over not remaining in closer contact with Kobe in recent years, it is clear the two Lakers legends were family. Shareef now has the text message from Kobe as a reminder that Bryant was thinking about him.
Many athletes and celebrities have had their own personal Kobe Bryant stories to share since the NBA legend tragically died in a helicopter crash back in January, and Kevin Hart’s is easily one of the best.
Hart recently took to social media to reveal that he attended a basketball camp with Bryant when the two were both in high school. The camp was in Philadelphia and run by former La Salle University basketball coach Speedy Morris. At the time, Hart had aspirations of playing at a top college program, while Bryant was already established as one of the best players in the country. But one thing really stuck out about Kobe at this particular camp — he used nothing but his left hand.
According to Hart, Morris tried to motivate the campers a few days in by pointing out that Bryant was using the time to work on shooting, dribbling and passing with only his left hand. The whole story is worth listening to, but the best part starts at around 2:57.
“Kobe Bryant approached the camp to only work on his left hand,” Hart recalled. “He never shot the ball with his right hand, he never dribbled the ball with his right hand. Kobe Bryant played us left-handed. The opportunity I thought was gonna be the biggest of my life was an (expletive) practice pad for Kobe Bryant. The moments I thought I was playing some of the hardest defense ever, Kobe Bryant was just counting in his head, ‘One dribble, two dribble, three dribble, four…’
“We didn’t even know he was practicing on us until the head coach made us all feel stupid for not working as hard as he worked. Needless to say, that’s when my NBA dreams were shattered.”
It’s somewhat cliche to say a star athlete “works harder than anyone you will ever see,” but that was certainly true in Bryant’s case. There’s plenty of evidence to support that, and Shaq helped spell it out for us with an awesome story he shared about Kobe’s rookie year a while back.
There aren’t many high schoolers who would dedicate an entire basketball camp to only using one hand. Kobe was that type of competitor, which is a big reason he won five NBA titles.
Vanessa Bryant made another appearance Saturday to talk about her late husband Kobe’s election to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
As expected, Kobe Bryant was officially named to the class of 2020, and Vanessa Bryant joined ESPN’s announcement broadcast along with her daughter Natalia for a brief interview. Vanessa Bryant referred to Kobe’s induction as “the peak of his NBA career” and grew emotional as she talked about it.
This has been an incredibly difficult time for Vanessa Bryant after her husband’s death in January. She has handled it with remarkable grace, poise, and strength and did so again here. It is unfortunate that Kobe Bryant won’t be there for his Hall of Fame induction, but Vanessa is carrying his legacy beautifully.
The 2020 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class will be as legendary as anticipated.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett will be the Class of 2020. An official announcement is expected over the weekend.
Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston added that five-time All-Star and two-time title-winning head coach Rudy Tomjanovich has also been voted in as part of the class.
The group of the first three players is no surprise, and it was predicted to be this way several weeks ago. It’s also nice to see Tomjanovich, one of the most accomplished NBA personalities around, get his due. This promises to be a must-see ceremony, and it will be an emotional one as Bryant’s absence will weigh heavily.
Jalen Mills wants to start a new chapter with the Philadelphia Eagles, and he is crediting a pair of all-time basketball greats for providing the inspiration.
The Eagles veteran, who will be changing his number from 31 to 21, said on Tuesday that LeBron James and the late Kobe Bryant inspired the change.
“The number change is just a new beginning,” Mills said, per Martin Frank of the Delaware News Journal. “One of the guys who always motivates me was Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. Kobe went from 8 to 24. LeBron from 6 to 23. It’s re-creating myself, re-creating that ‘Green Goblin,’ that monster. It’s a new position. It’s a new feel. It’s going to be new energy.”
The 25-year-old Mills, who will also be switching positions from cornerback to safety next season, signed a one-year, $5 million deal to return to Philadelphia this offseason. He added that he had interest from other teams as well but that they all wanted him to remain as a cornerback.
For Mills, whose number change will allow the newly-signed Nickell Robey-Coleman to wear No. 31 instead, let’s just say that this is much better than the last time that he got involved with the NBA.
Vanessa Bryant has been trying to get matters sorted regarding her family trust ever since husband Kobe and daughter Gianna died in January. There has been some progress in that effort, according to a report.
TMZ Sports reported on Monday night that Bryant’s daughters have been appointed legal guardians to represent their interests in the family trust. Vanessa and Kobe’s agent, Rob Pelinka, are the co-trustees.
According to TMZ, new legal documents say Natalia and Bianka have been appointed a guardian ad litem. Baby Capri has a guardian ad litem as well, though her guardian is different from the one her two older sisters have.
A guardian ad litem acts to protect a child’s interest.
Natalia is 17 and the closest to being an adult. Bianka is 3, while Capri is nine months old.
Vanessa recently was attempting to get Capri added to the trust since the young baby was not born at the time the trust was last updated. Bryant was looking to get things done soon because of uncertainty regarding shutdowns related to the coronavirus.