The late Kobe Bryant is one of the most respected NBA basketball players on the planet.
A five-time NBA champ, Bryant has both his No. 8 and No. 24 retired by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Back in January, Bryant, his daughter and seven other people died in a helicopter crash. The stories of Bryant have poured in.
Appearing on the Scoop B Radio before Bryant’s death, retired NBA player, Tracy Murray appeared on the Scoop B Radio Podcast and discussed what it was like not only to play on the same team as Bryant, but also what it was like serving as an assistant coach for the Lakers.
That afforded him the opportunity to coach his friend.
Check out a snippet from our Q&A below.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Byron Scott described you as one of the purest shooters he’s ever seen. You got the hometown discount with that being in California [laughs]…I mean you coached with Byron, he’s a Lakers legend himself, you sat on that bench during toward the end of his tenure as well as the end of Kobe’s tenure with the Lakers. What was that 2015 year like with Kobe and Byron?
Tracy Murray: It was cool being on the other side. Instead of playing with Kobe, now I’m coaching Kobe which was weird and it was funny. But I think Kobe was also closer to the coaching staff because he was closer to our age. He wasn’t the young fella so we were able to hang with Kobe a little bit more, he was hanging out with the coaches. B had the right ideas with what he was trying to teach the kids, the kids didn’t wanna learn…basketball. They just wanted to – they weren’t ready for L.A. In L.A., there’s a different type of focus. If you’re coming to L.A., you can’t be running the streets, chasing the Kardashians and all of that stuff [laughs]. You’re not going to win. In L.A. it’s about championships and it’s about winning. There’s a lot of pressure around, and those kids caught a lot of pressure. The original plan was to develop those kids. It was supposed to be a no pressure situation. Just develop those kids, show some improvement, teach them how to win, develop their skills and then all of the sudden it turned into we gotta win – and there was no way that we were going to win with that team. You know, they were young, inexperienced, they’re all chasing a second contract, they got three years to do it, there was no way you’re going to win with that team. You can’t win with youth in the League. You need veterans to guide them and to teach them. You need veteran coaches that been there and done that to guide them and teach them, and most importantly you need young players to buy into what’s being taught and I’m sure at that time and I’m sure D’Angelo [Russell] is more mature now…you know, he’s had a few wars in the League where now he has a couple years under his belt to where he probably understood that was being taught then because he’s now an All-Star excelling in his role with Golden State right now because, they’re a shorthanded team so he has the opportunity, to be the man up there. Unfortunately, everybody’s hurt I would like to see how would’ve fitted in with everybody. That’s what the question was. How was D’Angelo going to fit in with the way the system is with Curry having the ball in his hands all of the time? That question doesn’t have to be answered at the moment but, the question does have to be answered is, are they going to keep him? Are they going to move him for something? Some pieces? What’s really going to happen when everybody comes back? That’s the question. So I wish him a lot of luck. But you look at another young player was Jordan Clarkson. He knew how to score, but he did not know how to play so we’re trying to teach him if you’re going to have the ball in your hands all of the time, you gotta make plays for your teammates. You can’t go score snake the pick-and-roll and score all the time because you do have the ball every time, so you have to pick and choose when you don’t. He didn’t understand that but he was trying to figure that out. You had a young Julius Randle who was trying to figure out his deal. How could he be effective when he has two scoring point guards that don’t really pass? How does he get his? He had to start going to get his from the boards. And when he did touch it, inside pivot and see what you could go with and in the process try to develop a jump shot. You had Lou Williams who was a veteran. Lou was a veteran at that time. Lou wants to play with vets. He didn’t want to play with young guys. He tried to teach them, but you can’t really teach people that don’t want to be taught. You had a veteran Roy Hibbert who was used to getting the ball inside. And Kobe, when he was healthy enough to play, he had the farewell tour all at the same time. So it was a lot going on that year but the way that year ended, with Kobe scoring that 60 on the way out, it was DEFINITELY an emphatic statement left on his legacy with the way he finished.