Kobe Bryant’s Teammate Reveals Why He Didn’t Attend Lakers Memorial

Lakers star Kobe Bryant, with his towel after his final game

Getty Lakers star Kobe Bryant, with his towel after his final game

Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash that took the lives of nine people, including Bryant’s daughter, Gigi on Sunday, January 26.

The Lakers held a memorial for Bryant on February 24, 2020. Many attended.

Some didn’t.

Appearing on the Scoop B Radio Podcast, I checked in with Bryant’s former Lakers teammate, John Celestand. Celestand discussed how he and his family are adapting to the coronavirus pandemic, Shaquille O’Neal & tons more.

Check out a snippet from our dialogue below:

John Celestand on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19):

“I would say we’re blessed. Right now, with so many people being infected you just thank God for the blessings that you do have. Obviously I have a young child, he’s six years old, I’m working from home, my wife is working from home so there’s a lot of stress when it comes to home schooling and trying to connect him with is teachers, and trying to do our regular 9 to 5 jobs. But with that said, no one in our family has been infected with the virus so I’m happy to say that we’re blessed. There are so many people around us and so many friends that have been affected – people that have lost people so I try to keep that in mind even when we’re struggling trying to adapt to this “new normal” in the world.”

John Celestand on dealing with Kobe Bryant’s passing and his legacy:

“I don’t know if I’m healed from losing one of the greats in Kobe Bryant. There’s so much that I’ve been able to accomplish in my life simply because of my association with Kobe Bryant. My time playing with Kobe Bryant, with the legend – so, you move on and you move forward. But the word ‘heal’… that’s tough man. Because I just don’t know if I can ever heal from losing somebody so instrumental in my life and so great. I don’t know if I can heal all the way. He had done so much for the world, for basketball, for his family and he was doing so much more so, it’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna be really tough. Now the coronavirus coming up right after that, I guess kind of distracted you from that we had just a great legend, but from being around a guy like that, and that work ethic that he had, and the time that he put into the game of basketball – even though he was already supremely talented you know, spending a year watching him work, I’ve taken so much from him and I apply it not only to my basketball career even after I left the Lakers and I played overseas and I would tell stories and get to practice early like I always did, but I would try to mimic what he was doing. But even after basketball, when you get into the “real world” and you got a 9 to 5 or you got your business…you know, you try to take some of those attributes and some of those things you learned from watching some of the greats – and he was DEFINITELY one of those and I saw it up close. The work ethic. Getting up early. Being there way before everybody else. Staying late. Being introspective. And asking questions. That’s the thing with Kobe Bryant. He asked a lot of questions. He learned to understand. ‘What are you reading? Why do you come early to practice? Why do you stay late? When you come early, what are you working on?’… and it didn’t matter if you were a superstar or if you were at the end of the bench. He was ALWAYS trying to learn so, we’re going to miss him man. And I just hope that we can remember all the great things that he’s accomplished as a basketball player, but also what he was becoming as a family man or what he was a father and a husband.”

On why he did not attend the memorial:

“I did not attend the memorial in Los Angeles. And I’ll be honest; I watched the memorial from here. For me, it was too hard. My wife, she really pushed me. “John, I think you should go.” – And I’ma tell you: I felt like it was too hard for me go out to L.A. and be around all of those people. I know that sounds crazy. Most people want to be around others and be around ex-teammates, but for me, I kind of wanted to be simple. I wanted to sit and have my own thoughts. I didn’t want those to be interrupted and I wanted to just sit by myself and remember him. I didn’t feel that I could do that with you know, all the celebrities around and all the different people, you know? I that for some people might not make sense, but it’s best for me. You know?”

John Celestand was the Lakers’ 30th pick in the 1999 NBA Draft. He won a championship with the Lakers in 2000.

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