The situation in which we all find ourselves today is more suitable than ever for reflection. And not only about their own fate, but also the lives of other people. Including childhood idols or simply outstanding athletes. For obvious reasons, none of the NBA legends has been mentioned more often than Kobe Bryant recently. Even so, many details of Kobe’s biography are unknown to most. And when the tears of disbelief were finally replaced by bright sadness, memory and gratitude for life lessons, why not remember a few more stories about one of the greatest basketball players in history? Of course, by dividing them into 24 parts.
The basis for these stories (somewhere at ease, less often-word for word) will be the book “Showboat”, published in 2016 and found by the author of these lines in a Macclesfield bookstore. And who would have thought that I would return to her under such circumstances?
Let us begin, if you please, at the beginning. The moment when Kobe had not yet begun a triumphant step on our planet, and his father, despite only his first season in the NBA, already put his career in jeopardy…
A white sports car emerged from the night fog. Coincidentally, it was in the direction of the police car, whose “occupants” were once again caught up in the routine. They didn’t really go anywhere and listened to the radio broadcasts. When they saw the sports car, they had no problem recognizing the driver.
It was early may 1976 in Philadelphia. In the car was Joe Bryant, a 21-year-old” big “who had just finished his first season with the 76ers. A kind of urban legend, also known as Jellybean (“marmalade”, literally). Where did the nickname come from? According to one version – because of the style of play, not quite typical at the time. Even as a schoolboy, Joe was much more like the modern ideas about centerfields than the classic ones of that time. While his” colleagues ” fought for selection, not sparing their foreheads and jaws, Bryant senior barraged around the perimeter, dabbling with dribbling and other unorthodox things for people of his height. Despite the low effectiveness of the “tricks”, Joe’s colorful style of play earned the love and respect of local fans. In addition, this manner perfectly correlated with the character of Jellybean-open, fun. In General, happy. As, at least, it seemed from the outside.
However, that very evening, Joe got behind the wheel without the usual aura of the company’s soul. On the contrary, it had been an extremely difficult day, beginning with the funeral of the mother of his close friend, Gilbert Sanders. Without exaggeration-a second mother and for Bryant himself. After all, Joe spent a lot of time in their house. Moreover, he often left with sneakers or a jacket. Still, the Sanders family was, if a little, but more well-off, so they gratuitously helped a mutual friend.
Fortunately, in his first season in the NBA, Bryant’s financial situation improved significantly. A million-dollar contract for a newcomer is an incredible amount for that time. Even before the end of the season, he had already seen more money than in dreams and dreams. Therefore, it is no wonder that he did not come to the funeral of a loved one empty-handed. After meeting a friend, Gilberg Sanders – who was playing basketball at the University level at the time-saw a check in his hands. It was the only thing Joe could do as a thank you for years of help and support.
Of course, it is difficult for us to fall asleep on such emotional difficult days. That Bryant was driving in the area around Fairmont Park after midnight. Without a driver’s license. Only with an expired student permit and extremely limited experience. In fact, Joe only started driving in the fall, when he bought two handsome sports cars from his first professional contract – for himself and his wife, pam. Of course, it was the brand – new car that Joe often drove to South Philadelphia, the place where he grew up and which he called the ghetto.
However, the car was not Bryant’s only companion that evening. “With him” Joe was carrying several doses of cocaine (partially already taken) and … an ex-girlfriend, Linda Salter. While at home, a beautiful wife was waiting for him with a one-month-old child-a daughter. He didn’t know what he was thinking, but he was probably distracted by the flashing lights of the police car. The already unpleasant situation was compounded by another factor – race. The news of Bryant’s signing with the 76ers was on the front page of the Philadelphia Tribune at the time. Next to material about dozens of African-Americans killed by police in recent months. However, Joe didn’t need to read the Newspapers to find out about the racial conflicts in his city. This was the secret of polichinel.
Nevertheless, Bryant tried to remain calm at first. He got out of the car, introduced himself (as if it were necessary), and honestly admitted that he didn’t have a license. But he couldn’t stay calm throughout the entire conversation – the situation was too sensitive, and the cocaine he’d taken didn’t help his rationality. So what happened next shocked both the police and the Philadelphia community, and, of course, only ignited a bonfire over the already not-so-good reputation of the NBA of the 70s.
Bryant suddenly turned around and climbed back into the car. “Maybe, what other documents does he want to show?” – perhaps, the “policemen” thought. But instead, Joe sank the pedal to the floor, throwing dust and absurdity over his recent interlocutors. They, of course, gave chase, notifying colleagues of the situation. However, they soon realized that it was not safe to race Bryant’s sports car, to put it mildly. And, of course, not easy, because Jellybean drove under 200 km/h. With the lights off.