Sports are one of the great bonding moments between parents and their children. Some of sports’ greatest stars have come from families where fathers have been stars themselves, from the Manning family in the NFL to the Griffey family in baseball. This year’s NBA draft, for example, featured former Laker Mychel Thompson watching his son Clay Thompson get drafted with the Golden State Warriors
Looking to Kobe Bryant, it’s easy to forget about his upbringing when you gloss over the championship rings, All-Star games and scoring titles. Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, Kobe’s father, knows this all too well.
In an interview with the LA Times, Bryant spoke about living in the shadow of his All-NBA son, an odd experience for a man who played in the NBA for eight years himself during the 1970s and 80s:
If he’s recognized at a market, movie theater or restaurant, he could be bumped to the front of the line, or promptly seated at a corner table.
He doesn’t want special service. “I want people to know me for me,” he says.
Sometimes his conversations with strangers are brief. They’ll say they know him from somewhere and, in turn, he’ll wish them well and walk away.
“The people in basketball know Kobe’s good for a reason,” he says. “It had to come from his dad.”
What makes the elder Bryant happy? Making his 120 shots. His son. And what else?
“Watching players improve after I spend time with them,” he says.
It’s hard to tell whether we’ll see “Jellybean” Bryant on an NBA sideline. His success in the WNBA with the Los Angeles Sparks would suggest that he would fare well in a coaching gig or assistant role.
Do you see Bryant in a future NBA coaching role?