Los Angeles Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash that took the lives of nine people, including Bryant’s daughter, Gigi on Sunday, January 26.
Bryant’s accolades like winning five NBA Championships with the Lakers speaks for itself. His journey of becoming is quite fascinating.
Appearing on the Scoop B Radio Podcast, notable author and hoops historian, Roland Lazenby checked in with the Scoop B Radio Podcast and shared some of his favorite Bryant stories and the Michael Jordan expectation that many had for the former Lower Merion High School Ace who was a product of a rich 1996 NBA Draft class.
Check out our Q&A via Scoop B Radio below:
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Scoop B Radio on the line with Roland Lazenby talking everything basketball and more…I got a couple more questions. Tex Winter. Fascinated by the relationship that you guys had in relation to the Lakers and Bulls assistant coach. I talked about Dennis Rodman and Michael having similar temperament they just went about it differently just like Martin and Malcolm ‘By Any Means Necessary’ and ‘I Have a Dream’ they said the same thing but just two different ways. When I look at Kobe Bryant and I look at Michael, in my opinion I think that Kobe is the closest thing to Mike in my lifetime as far play, style and more. Tex Winter. Did he navigate those two the same or differently?
Roland Lazenby: Differently and I spent hours talking with Tex about that. That’s a GREAT question. First of all, they’re both perfectionists. And as Tex explained as all the great players. Jerry West, Michael, Kobe, Magic…they’re all perfectionists in their own way. Their games are different sometimes but they are perfectionists. What separated Michael from Kobe is that they had tremendous will and drive, intelligence and all that stuff but Michael got to play three years of college ball. Now it so happens that Bill Guthridge who was the guy who ran so much Dean Smith’s stuff at North Carolina, he was his top longtime assistant was actually Tex Winters point guard at Kansas State and then became Tex’s assistant coach. Now the Tarheels didn’t run the Triangle. Although Guthridge was an expert at the Triangle having played it as a player and coached it. But they ran – they were what they called a ‘System’ basketball team. They run System and the players have to learn and fit within the System. There are people who are big fans of System basketball, if your System is up and running and you get the players, you’re gonna kick a lot of booty, but there are also NBA scouts who used to go crazy over trying to scout North Carolina players because the System even with Jordan hides your athleticism. A lot of times you can’t tell how good they are because they’re so caught up in the System. But obviously the Triangle is one of those Systems that works famously. Tex always said Michael had those three years at Carolina, he came to the NBA and because he spent the early part in the NBA being unleashed and able to play for Kevin Loughery and being able to run and get it you know? Just get his. Just fully explore the range of his athleticism. And that was vital too. Michael had that background from Carolina which was he very bright, they would laugh because he was so pinpoint at his questioning. They would laugh while he would question Tex about everything or Phil…everybody wanted to know, what did Michael say? In one particular session or another. It was like some testing laboratory where the best ideas of the coach meet the best of everything a player can bring to it so, it was unique in a sort. It had a lot of tension to it, it wasn’t something just done remotely, Michael was challenging in every way possible and they came to a meeting of the minds, and Michael learned how to make that the heart of his own efficiency. And Tex said Kobe had none of that. Kobe came right from high school, he had been told by Adidas that he was the next Michael, and that what they shared where probably Kobe exceeded Michael was is that I described earlier was tremendous work ethic. But Kobe would chase the ball a lot and stuff. He had some habits that annoyed the hell outta his former teammates and coaches as a young player. I remember Kobe telling me, “I’m NOT going to let them break me!”…he had his own dream and ideas. Kobe was another guy that studied everybody. I would talk to him about this; I had been through all the Bulls stuff and I had watched Kobe come on and…Dang! This guy is – I remember I was in Charlotte the first night he scored an NBA field goal. He hit a three. And I walked in the locker room and he gave me a soul shake and hug [laughs] and I was just some clown with the microphone! [laughs]… he was just so eager to greet the world. But this was how the All-Star game used to be. It was in Cleveland. It was the 50th Anniversary