Kobe Bryant is undeniably one of the most dedicated, successful, and greatest basketball players to ever grace the NBA hardwood. He has achieved what many players only dream of doing, and his list of accolades could fill an entire book. This success did not come easy for Bryant, like I said before, his hard work and dedication to the sport of basketball is what made him a legend, that is looked up to by millions of people around the world.
Kobe admits that the success he has gained has come with many sacrifices. Thousands of hours were spent practicing dribbling, shooting, and playing defense so he could become a great player in the league like his father was. Refusing to play in his father's shadow, it is without a doubt that we can say Kobe has surpassed his father in NBA greatness. His intense work ethic and his strive to win has brought him many wins and accomplishments, but it has also isolated him from his teammates, and many people in the business of basketball. He admits that he has almost no friends in the league, but he doesn't care. Even though not personally liked by all, he definitely is respected by the entire NBA.
Considering Kobe's illustrious NBA career has sadly come to an end, it's time to share some things you may have not known about this icon. The following article will compile 24 things about Kobe that some people are unaware of. Even though beloved by so many, there is still a lot about Kobe that people don't know. There are a lot of backstories in this article that most people would find interesting about Kobe "Bean" Bryant. Unless you are the biggest Kobe fan to ever live, I guarantee you learn something about "The Black Mamba" in this article.
It is now time to say goodbye to a legend of the game. He sure gave us a fitting farewell, as his 60 point performance in his finale was one final gift from a legend.
Here are 24 things you didn't know about Kobe Bryant.
24 He's Named After A Japanese Steakhouse In Philadelphia
Kobe's father, Joe Bryant, stated that Kobe was named after a Japanese Steakhouse in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Funny thing is, the steakhouse changed it's name to "The Answer" for Allen Iverson in 2001, after the Sixers played the Lakers in the Finals. Kobe and the Lakers won the series in five games, and the restaurant was soon changed back to "Kobe". The restaurant has since been closed, so sadly nobody will be able to visit it.
23 His Signature Shoes Are Designed After Soccer Cleats
Kobe grew up in Italy, which means he had a bit of a background playing soccer. He even designed his shoes after soccer cleats, which is easy to see in a side-by-side comparison. Most basketball shoes are high tops, but Kobe went for the low cut shoes, just like a soccer player would wear. Now low cut ball shoes are the norm, so Kobe blazed the trail in that department.
Will we soon see Kobe dribbling around a soccer ball?
22 Chews On His Jersey For A Reason
We have all seen Kobe chew on his jersey. It's a Kobe thing, like when Michael Jordan plays with his tongue out. Most people don't understand why Kobe is always chewing on his own clothes. Well, there is no big profound mystery as to why his jersey is always in his mouth, it's just he is trying to wet his mouth during games.
A little tip Kobe, sometimes a few sips of Gatorade are enough to quench your thirst.
21 He Was A Soccer Goalie
Due to his athleticism, height, and incredible length, Kobe was always placed in the goal when playing soccer. If Kobe had decided to go down the soccer path instead of basketball, he probably would have been just as dynamic on the pitch as he is on the court. His 6'6" stature and quickness would make him one of the best goalies of all time, or at least that's what we think. Knowing Kobe's insane work ethic and competitive nature, he would have made it work.
20 He Was The First Guard Taken Out Of High School
Kobe was not the first player drafted out of high school, but he was the first guard that the NBA took a chance on right from high school. Since you can't teach height, most teams went with tall players from high school, but Kobe was an exception, and was drafted with the 13th pick to the Charlotte Hornets in 1996. In the end, Kobe is considered to be the most successful high school transition player of all time.
19 His New York Streetball Nickname is "Three Rings"
In 2002, Kobe traveled to Rucker Park to play ball against some of the best streetballers in the world. Crowds gathered to watch Kobe play as he battled against a crop of talent who were considered to be the best players New York had to offer. Players on the court began to call him "three rings", because that was the amount of championships he had at the time. You have to wonder just how seriously Kobe took these so called friendly games.
18 Origin Of His Middle Name
Known for his great leaping ability and high energy, Joe Bryant was given the nickname "Jellybean" by his peers. Kobe's parents passed the name down to their son, and decided to make "Bean" Kobe's middle name. This little known fact, certainly clears up why we sometimes hear him referred to as "Bean". As it turned out, the story behind the name was as fitting for Kobe as it was for his father. In this case, the old adage is certainly applicable....like father, like son.
17 Destiny's Child Cameo
During Destiny's Child's video for their hit song Bug A Boo, the women were able to make their way into the men's locker room, where Kobe is seen changing. He then locks eyes with Beyonce. Rumors have it that Beyonce and Kobe kept it going for a bit off screen too. If those rumors are true, this would have been the beginning of their unconfirmed romantic relationship. The video's definitely worth a look.
16 Kobe Wore Number 33 For Most of High School
After wearing the number 24 as a freshman at Lower Merion High School, Kobe wore number 33 for the rest of his career in high school. Bryant wore the number out of respect for his father, who wore the same number in high school. If Kobe had his choice, he would have worn number 33 in the NBA, but it was retired by the Lakers in respect to the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Not to worry Kobe, your number will be retired soon.
15 He Took Brandy To Prom
While a senior at Lower Merion High School, Kobe took R&B star Brandy to his senior prom. At the time of the prom, Brandy was starring in the UPN sitcom Moesha. With both Kobe and Brandy gaining traction in both of their respective fields, this prom was certainly filled with a lot of star power. This may have been the first time that a high school athlete was given primetime television coverage. It's amazing Kobe took a night off from basketball for something silly like a prom.
14 The Shadow Defender
During the offseason, Kobe states that he would hone in and learn new skills by competing against his own shadow. This practice just adds to the dozens of stories that show Bryant's dedication to getting better. This is just another one of those Kobe stories that sounds too crazy to be true, but it is. Kobe knows a thing or two about beating out shadows, considering he was always under Michael Jordan's shadow.
13 Kobe Beat His Father At Age 16
Considering Kobe's father was an NBA player, it is pretty impressive Kobe was able to steal a win against his old man at only 16 years of age. He said that his dad was extremely physical with him, even having his lip busted open during a game with his pops. This type of competition probably fired Bryant up more than anything, with his competitive nature giving him the edge over his father. Needless to say, that nature set him up for success.
12 Kobe Speaks Fluent Italian
Joe Bryant played some basketball overseas in Italy, moving his family to Europe for stretches of time. Kobe got accustomed to life overseas, and learned to speak Italian fluently as a result. It is fun to see Kobe break out his Italian once in a while, and it still gets a great reaction as many people are unaware of this little known fact. It makes you wonder what would have happened if he stayed in Italy.
11 Bruce Lee Is Kobe's Biggest Basketball Motivator
Bryant is a giant Bruce Lee fan and he even had the opportunity to appear in a Bruce Lee documentary. In 2010 while on tour in Asia, Kobe explained how he channels his energy, also known as qi (life force or energy flow) from Bruce Lee. The way Lee does martial arts is very loose, and he can adapt to new situations, which is why Kobe tries to emulate that on the court, making him one of the hardest guards of all-time to defend.
10 He's A Big AC Milan Fan
Since Kobe grew up in Italy, he was destined to become a soccer fan. At the time he was growing up, it made sense for him to become an AC Milan super fan. During Kobe's time in Italy, AC Milan was incredibly successful, winning the Champions League twice, the Coppa Italia twice, and the Serie A title once. Kobe is still a major fan to this day of AC Milan, and can often be seen sporting the jersey of his favorite team. It's good to know that even athletes, can be huge fans.
9 His Rap Battles While In The League
When both players were at the Hilton, Kobe told Alvin Williams he was going to his room to rap. Williams made a bad mistake when he said, "you can't rap" to Bryant. Kobe turned around and rapped to Williams for 15 minutes until Williams apparently just walked away without rapping back. The scene was reminiscent of the movie 8 Mile, with Kobe playing the role of B Rabbit.
The moral of this story is don't make anything a challenge for Bryant.
8 Kobe's Favorite Player Was Mike D'Antoni
While Kobe definitely looked up to Michael Jordan, there was another player who captured his imagination.
Mike D'Antoni was playing pro overseas in Milan during Kobe's stay in Italy. Kobe was asked about D'Antoni and stated: "He was a tenacious guard, man. He made great plays. He was probably the greatest guard to ever play over there...He was a player that I admired growing up." It is pretty cool D'Antoni got to coach Kobe while he was with the Lakers.
7 The Youngest Player Drafted At The Time
Kobe really grew up in front of millions of people when he entered the league at 18 years, two months, and 11 days in 1996. In his first game was against the Minnesota Timberwolves, he went 0-1 from the field, had one blocked shot and managed to only get one rebound. Talk about a big welcome to the NBA.
This bad game would only serve as a humble beginning to Kobe's legendary career.
6 Kobe Once Showed Up Seven Hours Early To A Team USA Practice
Before the 2012 Olympics, Kobe and his trainer had a work out at 4 A.M. to train for 75 minutes. The trainer then left to get some sleep for the 11 A.M. practice, while Kobe stayed behind and took shots. Even after the USA practice, Kobe was seen still shooting, and was asked when he was going to end his workout. Kobe responded, "I wanted to make 800 shots. So right now." This is just another story that highlights Kobe's ridiculous work ethic.
5 Kobe Had His Own Video Game Franchise
If you were a video game enthusiast and Kobe Bryant fan in the late 90s, then you probably remember the NBA Courtside video game. It was released in 1998, and it did so well that two more editions of the game came to follow. The sequels to the original improved on the game, and they took things to the next level. The last game was released in 2002, most likely halted due to his bout in court the following year.
4 There Is A Reason Behind Number Eight
Some people don't know why Kobe originally went with the no.8 for the Lakers. During his time as a prospect for the NBA, he went to a Nike ABCD camp, where he was given the number 143. Adding up his camp number is how he chose number eight for his jersey,. Mike D'Antoni was also one of his favorite players growing up, and he also wore the no.8, so that was another deciding factor that sealed the deal.
He would switch to the no.24 in 2006.
3 He's Very Upfront About His Top Five
Kobe has always had a bit of an ego in the NBA. To be honest, it's surprising that Kobe didn't put himself on the top five list when asked. Then again, it is Kobe, so he legitimately has some room to have a big head considering he is one of the best players ever. Kobe was magnanimous and left himself off the list. He went with undeniable legends such as Magic, Jordan, Bird, Russell, and Kareem. Needless to say, many others will happily place him in the top five.
2 Holds The Record For Most Consecutive All-Star Games
Since his All-Star debut in 1998, it has been a guarantee that fans will get to see Kobe play during the All-Star break. He has been in 18 All-Star Games, and is tied with Bob Petit with four MVP awards while playing in the event. As a testament to his drive and hard work, Kobe is one of few players to even make the All-Star Game during his final year. Next year's event just won't feel the same without Kobe.
1 Kobe's College Of Choice Would Have Been...
We would have loved to see Kobe play college ball. How much fun would those games have been? Contrary to the urban legend that Kobe was Duke bound, Kobe has stated that he would have actually liked to have played for the University of North Carolina, joining up with Vince Carter and Antwan Jamison. Could you imagine that? That would have made for one of the greatest college basketball teams of all time!