Kobe Bryant has always been an important figure in sports, but once he passed, people really began to appreciate just how unique he was.
January 26, 2021 marks the one year anniversary of the tragic helicopter crash that killed the legendary NBA star, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, and 7 others. In honor of the awful day and remembering Kobe for who he was when he was alive, let’s take a look back at some of the best stories his friends, colleagues, and fellow celebrities have told about him over the years.
1. Michael Jordan
Both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were notoriously private people, which makes stories involving the both of them that much more special.
At Bryant’s memorial last year, Jordan opened up about his relationship with the Lakers legend, revealing that he was like a little brother to him. He lovingly said that his texts at 2, 3, and 4am used to bother him, but he realizes Kobe was simply trying to be great.
2. Jimmy Fallon
The day after Kobe’s tragic passing, Jimmy Fallon opened The Tonight Show by telling the story of the first time he met Kobe Bryant.
When Jimmy was just starting his comedy career and Kobe had just joined the Lakers, they met at a party in Los Angeles and ended up going on a beer run together. They accidentally showed up to a delivery-only liquor store on Sunset Boulevard, but Bryant’s status as a Laker saved the night.
3. Jeff Pearlman
During an episode of The Jump back in September, Rachel Nichols, Richard Jefferson, and Vince Carter discussed a story from Jeff Pearlman’s book, Three-Ring Circus, which involved Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and other members of the Los Angeles Lakers.
An excerpt from his book talks about the early days of the Lakers, revealing just how confident Kobe has always been--a stark comparison to the men he was playing with.
“The assembled talent before Del Harris was breathtaking. Harris asked each man to stand and introduce himself,” the book reads. “Shaquille O’Neal, jolly and. giggly, stood first, nodded, said, ‘What’s up? I’m Shaq. Let’s do this.”
The excerpt continues, “One by one, the other men followed. ‘Hey, I’m Derek Fisher. Rookie. From little ol’ Arkansas. Ready to get to work. Next”
The rest of the team continued to give run of the mill introductions, but once it got to Bryant, he made his stance on the team known immediately.
“Yo, I’m Kobe. Kobe Bryant,” the book recalls the star saying. “I’m from PA--went to Lower Merion High School, dominated everything. I just want y’all to know, nobody’s gonna punk me. I’m not gonna let anyone in the NBA punk me. So be warned.”
4. Dwyane Wade
Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade also has a story about Kobe and his incredible work ethic, which ultimately made him realize he needed to work harder.
The baller was playing basketball in the Olympics along with Bryant and other greats representing the USA. As Wade and the others went upstairs to take a nap after practice, Kobe stayed behind. The other teammates took a three hour nap and came back down to get some food, which is when they saw Kobe icing his knees--he got in another work out while they were sleeping, and was already preparing to practice once more.
The perfect example of the Mamba Mentality.
5. Jayson Tatum
Celtics star Jayson Tatum has called meeting Kobe Bryant the best day of his life, right behind the birth of his son.
The baller went on The Old Man and The Three Podcast last summer to talk about working out with Bryant after his rookie year, explaining just how much it meant to him and what really happened behind the scenes.