Bulls’ Dalen Terry Was ‘Damn Near in Tears’ After Meeting Kobe Bryant

Chicago Bulls

Getty Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Chicago Bulls youngster Dalen Terry says his love for basketball began at an early age.

That love and countless hours in the gym led to a close encounter with his favorite player growing up, late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who visited the gym Terry’s team was playing in one day along with fellow Hall-of-Famer Tracy McGrady.

Terry said he was several courts away from Bryant, and that his “pride” normally wouldn’t have let him pursue an autograph but this was the exception.

“Kobe asked me, he was like, ‘What position you play?’ At the time I mean I was a point guard,” Terry said on the “QMO Pod” on September 14. “He’s like, ‘Damn, you [6-foot-7] play point guard? S***, you should have been on my team.’ And I’m like, no way Kobe just said I should be on his team. You know what I mean? I’m damn near in tears, like, oh s***.”

That meeting was thanks in large part to an assist from Terry’s coach, Isaiah “J.R.” Rider.

Rider and Bryant were teammates on the Lakers in 2000-01, and the former led Terry past the hefty security detail to meet Bryant and McGrady, whom Terry notes he did not even notice at first. While it was McGrady who greeted Terry first, noting that he had seen highlights of the latter and even offering words of encouragement, it was all about Bryant for Terry.

“You know how you say people got an Aura? … Honestly, I didn’t even see T-Mac, bro,” Terry said. “I seen Kobe, and I was like, ‘Bro, what’s going on here? That’s my favorite player. Wow.’ … I got him tatted on me. … That’s something that I will never forget.”

“I never felt like that before, man,” Terry said.

Joining the Bulls could have been a full-circle moment for Terry had the Bulls been able to successfully land Bryant as the latter is said to have wanted more than once during his career.

How Dalen Terry Dealt With Lack of Playing Time

Terry previously spoke about the challenges of not playing much as a rookie. But he elaborated on how he made the best of his situation, sitting behind DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine.

“It’s everything, for real,” Terry said. “Because people really don’t understand: it’s hard not playing as a rookie, and I was a top-20 pick. So I just gotta sit here, wait my turn. But, at the end of the day … they’re All-Stars, I’m a rookie. I might as well just see her soak some game up and just talk to them.”

Terry also noted that he’s always been a fun-loving person, a trait that is often evident on the sidelines during Bulls games.

Terry’s ability to turn the disappointment of not playing into positive energy could be key once again this season. The Bulls added veterans Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig to the rotation, both of whom figure to play significant minutes if not start next season.

Dalen Terry Explains Developing Love for Basketball

Terry, like Patrick Williams before him and with him this summer, trained with DeRozan in Los Angeles. The now-infamous 5 A.M. workouts are not exactly new to Terry, though, who was doing something similar at just five years old.

“I’ve always, from a young age, just stayed in the gym,” Terry said. “I just lived in the gym. My auntie … used to coach at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. And she coached for the women’s team, and since I was like five years old to probably my freshman year of high school, I would always go during the summers when I didn’t have AAU tournaments, 5 a.m. wake up.

“She’ll pick me up, and we go 5 a.m to probably 9 A.M. … I’m just in the gym all the time. So my love for the game was like really like different from a young age.”

If Terry is going to earn more minutes than appear to be available at the moment, he is going to have to show all that time in the gym is paying off in the form of improved shooting touch and awareness on defense.