Rachel Nichols' heartfelt tribute to Kobe Bryant | The JumpMay 30, 2021
welcome to the
nicholswe have a very heavy heart here today and in the next hour you'll hear logo jerry west from Kobe's former teammates Robert Horry Matt Barnes from Tracy McGrady and Ice Cube so many others who knew Kobe well, first, although we were just talking about him, I don't know why we always say something like that when someone dies, it's like we think we can pull a rope and go back to the time when everything was fine, maybe if we can do it. That we won't have to face what happened to Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others, each of them special, each of them freshly erased from the sky, we might think that if we tell the old stories, the new no.
It doesn't have to be real, the thing is we were talking about him, our show was in Philadelphia on Saturday night when LeBron passed Kobe for third place on the all-time scoring list and in the locker room LeBron was counting the story of how when he was 15, Kobe gave him a pair of Kobe shoes one size smaller than LeBron, but LeBron said he stuck his feet in those babies to play the next day because they came from Kobe and anyone he loves this sport knows what that means, oh and um, we were talking about Kobe with Tracy McGrady about a week ago because they were in the middle of this adorable stretch of AAU tournaments that his two sons were playing in, so they'd be like the Parents club sitting together in the stands and cheering on each other's family, you know, T-mac was Kobe's first rival and also one of his first friends in the NBA and last year the three of us sat together to tell some stories, here's one, how old were you when you met? 19, right? because you're a year ahead, yeah, that's when I knew that he likes to play mind games and always tries to get an advantage over his opponents, whatever it is, I don't care if I'm his friend, whatever it is.
I told him I was about to go to training and he said to me: What are you going to do for yourself in the offseason? People need to exercise and I look at it like it's okay. Go back to my room, take it easy. for a minute I go to the weight room which idea was fine so I had to start taking powder like this right here so he always has the advantage over someone who had a hard time understanding sarcastically that he was just being sarcastic ovie and all the Other NBA superstars knew it like Kevin Garnett, we were talking about Kobe last month. kg was visiting the set and I asked during a commercial break about what promised to be a crazy Hall of Fame ceremony this fall because Kevin, Kobe and Tim Duncan were all set for the induction KJ and I joked about Kobe's speech, how it would be how competitive to try to outshine Right kg and Duncan, even in that of course now we will never hear that speech, oh my god we were just talking about it with Luca Don. touch because Luca's incredible rise this season involves Kobe because of course it does.
Kobe brought gg to watch Luca play and he actually started badmouthing Dutch from the sidelines dodging a fan is interrupting M&E look to see who it is and for you it's Kobe Bryant. I understand that he was actually speaking in Slovenian, that's right, yes. What did he say? I can't say I can tell how it was like someone was talking, then I turned around and thought: "That cold, what's going on?" Surprised, I was surprised by the accent of the house, right, yeah, and I know Kobe. I saw him alive, it was amazing to meet him and I mean, LeBron was always my favorite, but I always looked out for him.
You know he was a beast and what he did on the court. Just amazing, you know, Kobe initially didn't attend many NBA games after he retired, it was GG who got him back to watching the league. She was his little shadow, just as curious and intelligent and, like her father before her, she already knew him. When she was a teenager, she was destined to be great. Here's Kobe describing it on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Fans come up to me and she'll be standing next to me and she'll be like, 'You've got to have a boy.' You and Vee have to have a kid.
Have someone carry on your traditional legacy and she's like, "Oh, you, I have this clip." That clip devastates me because it's Kobe the father, which is how we talked about him most often over the past year, so remember when Kobe came into the league. Public opinion was rife with stereotypes about black parents, especially black professional athlete parents, but Kobe was one of the players who very visibly debunked that because he was so devoted to those kids. I saw Kobe about a month ago and there he was. very proud taking out his cell phone to show me new photos of his girls and I could honestly tell you a thousand stories about Kobe.
I've known him for literally half my life but two of them stand out in particular the first one he wasn't even. In fact, I was there for this more than a decade ago, one of the most interesting work assignments I've ever had: interviewing Barack Obama. They took me to the back of the plane to meet him and the first words out of Obama's mouth before he even said hello were: Hello, I saw. you on TV at that Lakers game last week, what the hell was Kobe doing? And that's when I realized that yes, like everyone else, the president of the United States had just been talking about Kobe Bryant.
Kobe was a big part. of the fabric of American life the second story. I have told this one often in the 23 years since it happened because of how much it means to me. She was still starting out as a reporter, a young woman in a time when locker rooms were still not friendly places for young women. It was sometimes difficult to get players to agree to an interview, but when I went to write a story about a rookie named Kobe Brian, he not only sat with me on a bench for 45 minutes, he told me. He could relate to how discouraging it could be at times how some of the vets on his team didn't like this kid straight out of high school getting all the attention, how they were harassing him as we stood up, he told me, you and me .
Everything will be fine, they have no idea what's coming, they didn't, of course, not with him, but now we know that you can't tell the story of the NBA without Kobe, you can't tell the story of Los Angeles without Kobe , not even the fans. We met so many people who can't tell the story of their own lives without a scene involving all of us all the time for one reason after another, year after year we were just talking about him and we'll keep talking about him forever.
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