Upon his entry into the league, Kobe Bryant was a media magnet. He appeared in various commercials and was interviewed on different TV shows. Supermodel Cindy Crawford was one of those who got to interview the young Kobe. And she decided to get a bit flirty with the Black Mamba.
Bryant was 19 years old during the interview, while Crawford was 31. Crawford asked Kobe to tell the story behind his unique name. And right from the get-go, the supermodel slipped subliminal innuendos, much to the audience’s delight.
The interview proceeded accordingly. Kobe shared more of his background as then the youngest to ever play in the NBA. He also shared why he wasn’t too intimidated being the youngest guy on the court. According to Kobe, it only proved that basketball has no limits. Old or young, as long as you could play, there was a place for you in The Association.
Kobe also shared how Shaquille O’Neal was his big brother on the team. This was a great advantage as Kobe said no one tried to mess with him since nobody touched Shaq. It’s a cute little story as they would turn out to be the duo to lead the Lakers to a 3-peat, then enter into a feud that would last for years.
The mandatory show-off-you-basketball-skills segment came after the sit-down interview. This was where Crawford seemingly couldn’t control herself from sending signals to Kobe. But the Lakers legend, at 19 years old, already had a good awareness of who he was and his stature in society.
Cindy Crawford: “Wait, do you always dribble before you shoot?”
Kobe Bryant: “I like to. Yeah.”
Crawford: “Does he know what he just said? Think about it, Kobe. I forgot. You’re a virg.. You’re underage.”
Bryant: “This is a show on TV. Back to the basketball.”
It’s painfully awkward yet hilarious how Bryant tried to pan Crawford’s advances. It’s also difficult to imagine such a segment airing today. Perhaps Crawford would’ve been castigated for hitting on a 19-year-old.
A lot of lessons could be learned from the segment. The most significant one is how mature Bryant was at just 19 years old. Maybe this was Bryant’s best asset. More than his superb basketball talents, he carried himself like a full-grown man on and off the court.