That’s despite having played for his hometown Philadelphia 76ers.
“I remember when the Lakers played the Sixers in the [2001 NBA] finals,” Bryant told me during our interview in 2015. “And they would say, ‘Well who ya rooting for?’
“I said, ‘Well you know Philly, I’m always Philly — I always rooted for Philly, I even for the Flyers and the Eagles,’”
“You know what I mean? And the Phillies because you’re from Philly. And I said, ‘Well listen, I can’t lose.’ You have Philly and Lakers, you can’t lose, your emotions — you always root for your son to win the championship and all that. But you know, I thought that was really interesting time or period being a hometown Philly boy, you always root for your home teams. But watching Kobe perform against someone as great as Allen Iverson, soon to be a Hall Of Famer also, that was a great experience watching that finals.”
A 6’9 big man, Joe Bryant’s footwork was a killer on the NBA hardwood.
A product of LaSalle University, Jellybean was a first round draft pick in the 1975 NBA Draft who was shipped to the hometown 76ers.
A standout at John Bartram High School in Philadelphia, he played with Philly legend Julius “Dr. J” Erving while he was a Sixer. D
Bryant also played hooped abroad in Italy and later played for the NBA’s San Diego Clippers and Houston Rockets.
After his NBA basketball playing career, he spent time as head coach of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. He also spent time coaching overseas in Italy, Japan and in Thailand.
His son, Kobe Bryant died at the age of 41 on Sunday January 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, while on his way to a basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. Bryant, his daughter, Gianna Bryant and seven other passengers perished in the helicopter crash.
The 13th Pick out of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA, Kobe Bryant played for 20 NBA season. The Black Mamba is fourth on the NBA’s career scoring list. He totaled 33,643 points for his career.
“I still enjoy watching Lakers,” Joe Bryant told me in 2015.
“And if he’s not there, I’m still gonna watch the Lakers game because you become a fan when your child is playing for them.”
Kobe Bryant won five NBA championships and his numbers 8 and 24, are both retired by the Los Angeles Lakers organization at Staples Center.