Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the biggest NBA legends out there, and he was honored last month with the inaugural Gotham Icon Award. The award was from the Museum of the City of New York, but Kareem used this opportunity to talk about another NBA legend he was really close with, Kobe Bryant.
Bryant and Jabbar were extremely close throughout the years, especially when Bryant joined the Lakers back in 1996. Known as a true scholar of the game, Bryant asked Kareem to work out with him, which he did. In an interview with Rob Leap, Kareem said he got really close with his family along the way and saw how great of a family man Kobe was when he was alive.
“I coached Kobe for six years. I knew his family, his wife, and his kids. It’s a real loss, not thinking in terms of a sports icon being gone, but a very involved family man and father that’s not there and a daughter that’s not there. I used to play peek-a-boo with her. It bothers me; they’re not here.”
Kareem also had the opportunity to experience Kobe’s competitive nature, which was evident ever since he joined the Lakers as a teenager. Even though most people will remember Kobe as being one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history, Kareem urges everyone to recognize how great of a parent he was to his four daughters.
“(He was) a very intense competitor who was willing to sacrifice anything for his profession and the sport he loves. Away from that, he was a great parent and dad, and he should be remembered that way.”
One other relatively unknown facts about Kobe that Kareem wanted to emphasize was his great sense of humor. Kareem witnessed numerous situations in Lakers’ practices where Kobe would blast out a joke towards his teammates, which were totally unexpected but hilarious at the same time.
“Kobe had an incredible sense of humor; he could just blurt out things that were pretty outrageous and very funny at times. One time at practice, Luke Walton was trying to do some spectacular things and failed three or four times… Kobe yells out, ‘The force Luke, use the force!’ I busted out laughing. How could you be thinking about something like that at basketball practice? He had that type of sense of humor.”