No matter how many different Kobe stories I hear, there’s always a piece of me that can’t believe he was so maniacally committed to using EVERY SINGLE MOMENT to get an edge and get closer to victory.
He’s not mentioned a lot in the trash-talking Hall of Fame, but Kobe’s dedication is up there with the best of them. One of the stories that prove that claim came from Jusuf Nurkić of the Portland Trail Blazers. Nurkić comes from Bosnia, and as a kid, he idolized Kobe. He was caught off guard when he herds someone curs in Bosnian during free throws:
He’s shooting the free throws (Kobe), and I’m out there like, nobody can touch him, how is that possible all night he was shooting free throws. He actually said a word in my language. I’m like Nah I didn’t really hear right; he can’t speak my language. Then we go back and forth, he goes back to the free-throw line, and he repeats that word. It was a curse word, but I’m pretty sure he said that… It was crazy he said that in my language because the only people that know that at the game are my family.
Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian are similar languages, and people from these countries understand each other quite well. Kobe learned to curse in Serbian so he could trash talk Divac, but not get techs from the referees.
That became a thing with Kobe. He realized the Spurs would be their main rivals in the West long term, so he took up French so he could trash talk Parker during their matchups.
I used to love playing the San Antonio Spurs and saying something in French that I won’t repeat here, to Tony Parker, who’s watching ‘What? Who taught you that?’
Kobe was also able to speak fluent Italian, as he grew up in Italy. So the list is English, French, Croatian/Bosnian/Serbian, and Italian. He may not have been the best trash talker, but he sure was the most dedicated one.