Joe Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s father was no slouch on the basketball court.
In fact, he had amazing footwork.
Nicknamed ‘Jellybean,’ he was the No. 14 pick in the first round of the 1975 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors.
The power forward/center was later traded to the Philadelphia 76ers before his rookie season.
Bryant was traded to the San Diego Clippers in 1979 and played for three seasons before signing with the Houston Rockets in 1983.
After his NBA playing career, Joe Bryant would play overseas in Italy and would later coach in the WNBA.
The late Kobe Bryant is a second-generation NBA player. His uncle, Chubby Cox also played in the NBA. His pedigree was rich and Bryant studied and enjoyed it all. His father relished what his son was able to do. “A a fan, just watching him play and putting up all those points and playing at such a high level at such a great organization like the Lakers,” Joe Bryant told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
“I think that’s probably one of the important things. These kids come out of school and they worry about being a number one pick, number two pick, I think it’s more important that you get with the right organization and Kobe was able to do that and as you see, playing with one organization is really something special.”
During his NBA career, Kobe Bryant is listed fourth on the NBA’s career scoring list with 33,643 points won five NBA Championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Being a second generation basketball player has it’s advantages. “I figure it is helpful in the sense that our children get a chance to meet or go places where the normal child doesn’t get a chance to go to you know,” Joe Bryant told me via Scoop B Radio.
“Meaning that after a game, when you’re 10, 11, or 12 years old you can go in the locker room and talk to Magic or talk to Kareem, or talk to George Gervin or whatever the case may be, you get a chance to get on the court and shoot around with them where a lot of kids don’t get that opportunity so, and then also they understand the ups and downs and the challenges that their parents went through, that their father went through it in the sport. As parents, we try to give our kids advice just to stay focused, work hard and those types of things that you been through…So that’s the advantage.”
Appearing on a recent episode of the Scoop B Radio Podcast, author and basketball historian, Roland Lazenby digs into how ahead of his time, both Kobe Bryant and his father were.
Lazenby wrote Bull Run! The Story of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, The Long Strange Ride of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, The NBA Education of Kobe Bryant, Mindgames: Phil Jackson’s Long Strange Journey, The Show: The Inside Story of the Spectacular Los Angeles Lakers in the Words of Those Who Lived It, Michael Jordan: The Life and Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant.
Check out a snippet from our Q&A below:
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: I think Kobe was ahead of his time. If you really look at today’s NBA, many players, second generation ballplayers you look at Klay Thompson son of Mychal, you look at Steph Curry and Seth Curry sons of Dell Curry and you even look at Kyrie Irving and you look at some aspects and Kyrie’s father was known in New York City basketball circles he did not make it the league but his godfather is Rod Strickland, and his dad played at Boston University, his mom died and his father took care of him and his sisters but I’ll say this, I talked to Kobe’s dad Joe ‘Jellybean’ Bryant in Dallas, Texas a few years ago and we talked about generally how I started out in radio as a kid with the Nets, a child prodigy spending time with his dad overseas and living in the Philadelphia Main Line area and I went to school out that way so there was a connection there with Kobe’s father and myself. What I found was with Kobe being ahead of his time, he would live, eat, and sleep basketball. He really didn’t socialize with the older gentleman on the Lakers at the time; you know Shaq was an icon, and you mention Rick Fox and some of the things he said. I think a lot of the older veterans were threatened by him because they saw something in him that they didn’t have themselves.
Roland Lazenby: In my book it really gets into that. Because they were VERY threatened by him and was very intimidated. And that’s hard for a 28-29 year old male who’s prided themselves and achieved a lot, making nice money playing basketball and here’s this 18 year old (he was 17 when he got drafted)…and yeah I wrote so much about Jellybean [Bryant] that I had to explain all of that. And you are absolutely correct. Kobe WAS ahead of his time. Jellybean was ahead of his. And Jellybean was an incredible player. I really saw his career. I went through all of it, a couple of bad things happened in Philly, he had a real crazy chase scene with the cops and a bad wreck, cocaine charges and stuff against him, but he had tremendous good fortune on the other side thankfully but Jellybean was South Philly and it was interesting his father ‘Big’ Joe Bryant who was fascinating, Jellybean played for Paul Westhead at La Salle and Jellybean was 6’9” and could HANDLE. I mean he was a very fluid player, with a lot of bounce but nobody wanted that. Westhead let him play that way at La Salle. Westhead loved the up tempo game and Jellybean was the point guard half of the time at 6’9” but the NBA wasn’t going to do it and Jellybean’s hero was always Magic. But Jellybean played in the league and then over in Europe and so it was a lot of fun to trace all of that and to go back and dig up all that stuff. You know what was a great help for me doing that book?
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: What was?
Roland Lazenby: The archives for the Philadelphia Tribune. Because I wanted to trace who Kobe’s people were and I was able to go back in and find amazing things they had done. But you wouldn’t find that in a mainstream papers. One of the greatest archives – one of the most powerful and important things that I’ve run into in doing all of my work are all of the African-American papers around the country. So many of them are struggling today, others are not but like so many are struggling today but the archives of all those stories…and it’s just like when I went down to do the Jordan book, I was down there going through the history books and you wouldn’t have knew that African-Americans existed and so I was sitting in the library down there and I asked the librarian about it when I was doing the Jordan book, and she said, ‘Well, my father’s over in the hospital. He’s 85. You can over and talk to him.’ He knew the Jordans and he had been raised by sharecroppers. He was a sharecropper himself, his father made him go to school and he became a history professor at North Carolina Central. And this guy, I mean I spent hours sitting there listening to him explaining to me about North Carolina and so the African-American newspapers have a record of things. It is a record of things and the mainstream media would sometimes cover some things, but not much. Not the way it should’ve been covered. So there’s all kinds of ways to unlock that important history that I found and it really changes the – the one thing I want to add is as you know the family changes all the stories in basketball. It’s a different context form. It changes so many things. It’s true about Jerry West, Michael Jordan to Kobe, it’s true now that I’m writing about Magic Johnson. You get to understand the families, you have to understand the history of the families, the places they came from and what they went through and that just takes you right through the families of today with the players. And obviously you can’t spend but a portion of the book on the background. But it helps to understand. It’s amazing what you find once you start digging in the family background.