Fox Sports Net’s latest installment of the critically acclaimed documentary series BEYOND THE GLORY features Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. The hour-long Sports Emmy-nominated program airs on Sunday, April 28 at 8:00 p.m.
Some may wonder why someone as young as Bryant (23), would have enough of a story at this juncture to dedicate to an hour documentary. But, that’s precisely what makes this profile of Bryant compelling. His age, the problems it created with teammates and coaches, in addition to his willingness, despite being a high profile public figure, to guard his private life.
Bryant’s childhood was far from the average kid. Growing up the son of a NBA player, Bryant spent the first six years of his life in Philadelphia. But, when his father Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant signed a deal to play in the Italian League, Kobe and the family moved to Italy. This was the first time in his life that he had to adapt to a different environment, but it wouldn’t be the last.
For the next seven years, Bryant immersed himself into the new culture and language and in his favorite activity – playing basketball. After getting comfortable though, the Bryants were on the move again. Joe retired from basketball in 1991 and returned his family to Philly.
While Kobe felt at home on the basketball court, he returned to the U.S. from life as an outsider in a foreign land, to Philadelphia as a stranger in his hometown. Once again, he was forced to acclimate to surroundings that seemed just as foreign. Given Kobe’s game, he had no trouble proving himself on the court, but making friends was another story.
So Bryant went about being the best basketball player he could be. He spent all his free time practicing the sport he loved with his best friend, the basketball.
The two-time NBA champion and this year’s All-Star game MVP seems to be living the life only few dream of and Bryant wouldn’t disagree with that. But, he’s also encountered skeptics. He seemed to be too young to make the decisions he had to make and everyone else seemed to know what was best for Kobe Bryant.
BEYOND THE GLORY hears Bryant describe the situation from his perspective and also talks to teammates and others around him, about the enigma he sometimes appears to be.
People interviewed for this episode of BEYOND THE GLORY in addition to Bryant include: NBA players Eddie Jones, Rick Fox, Brian Shaw, Derek Fisher, Lakers coach Phil Jackson, Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis, former Lakers GM Jerry West, Bryant’s former high school coach Greg Downer, high school athletic director Tom McGovern and high school teammate Evan Monsky. Following are some quotes from the one-hour show:
“What do I want to go into the bar for? I don’t drink. I’m underage anyway. What do I want to go down there for? Guys go to strip clubs. What do I want to go to a strip club for? For what? I’m here to play basketball. I don’t need to do that type of stuff.”
(on his feud with Shaq) “We just wanted room to operate. If you look at Kareem, you’re looking at Magic, you know Magic, he’d just pass the ball. Kareem shot it. Magic loved to do that. On this team, Shaq and I, we’re both killers. We like to go for your throat. It’s just a matter of us finding out how we can do that and do it together and know when to attack. It was fun getting there. Then we figured out how to do it.”
(on his former coach Del Harris) “He viewed me as being a young kid, which I was. He wanted the other players to respect me. He wanted me to work for my opportunity. I worked so hard, I was already working harder than everybody else. But he felt like he had to be ten times harder on me than he was on Eddie Jones or Nick Van Exel and that wasn’t fair.”
“Magic [Johnson] had a comment that I had to hang out with the team and go to clubs and go to bars in order to build team camaraderie for us to win. I respect Magic so much. But to me, that was just an off the wall statement. Because how is that going to make us win a championship for me to go out to a club and hang with the guys and do this, that and the other? There are other ways we can go about doing this.”
(on working out Kobe a few weeks before the 1996 NBA Draft) “We put him against Michael Cooper who was one of the really great defensive players we had in the NBA. We played him against Larry Drew and we also played him against people who were drafted higher than him in the draft. It was a joke to watch him just kind of march over these people. The kid was seventeen years old at that time.”
“I thought it was an absolute easy decision to try to do anything we could to get him.”
(on Kobe today) “He has really scaled things back and has learned to use his teammates better. There’s tremendous room for improvement in him. He’s going to be better than what he is today. That’s pretty scary.”
(on Kobe turning pro at 17) “Kobe transgressed one of the things I think that’s really a mistake. College is our farm system basically in the NBA. It’s important that players go through that process, learn how to succeed in a peer group setting that’s mostly their own age group.”
“It was just amazing that ten years ago when this kid [Kobe] was eight or nine years old, that he’s playing in the NBA against me and I played against his dad.”
“Veteran ballplayers naturally expect all younger ballplayers to respect them and to kind of cater to them in terms of giving them the basketball and kind of down-playing their game for the benefit of their game. Kobe didn’t do that.”
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