Skip to main content

"He spent so much time being a clown" — the one guy Kareem didn't want Kobe to model his game after

Kobe-Bryant-Kareem-min

Kobe walked like Mike, talked like Mike, and played like Mike. But the basketball greatness we got to witness throughout his 20-year NBA career wasn't just influenced by the one he admired the most.

Being the ultimate student of the game, Bryant dissected every move possible, looking at the all-time greats that preceded MJ, trying to steal something from their basketball repertoires. Even at an early age, just watching his father, Joe, compete against the best of the best did wonders for Kobe. He was one of the lucky ones who had the luxury of being around NBA players as a kid. Some of them even took him under his wing. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was one of them.

The two met when Kareem played against Kobe's father with the San Diego Clippers. They also spent some time together when the Bryants lived in Italy. At that point, Kobe already had a years-long experience of watching his father play. Naturally, he already handpicked the ones he wanted to model his game after. And Kareem was fine with whoever he picked. Except for Daryl Dawkins. He even warned Bryant about it.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Darryl spent so much time being a clown and not focusing on the finer aspects of the game. Daryl was just incredibly and physically gifted like Shaq. But he didn’t understand his potential and use it the right way. That is something that Kobe would never do.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, USA Today

Kareem saw Dawkins as a waste of talent. That's why he wanted Kobe to look up to his father instead. Not for their skills on the basketball court -- Darryl had a better NBA career than Joe Bryant -- but for how each of them worked on their craft.

Kobe would’ve gotten every ounce out of his potential, which he did. You saw the killer that he was. That’s because he learned how to use it the right way and use his talents in the best way. I have a lot of respect for him. He got the best from his game and he played the smart game.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, USA Today

Bryant never talked about this specific interaction with Jabbar. But he did speak about how much influence his father had during his early days of playing the game of basketball. Given how much he appreciated the all-time greats, we can only assume he took Kareem's advice. His approach to the game, which was the exact opposite of Dawkins', tells us that must've been the case.

Robert Williams has shut down Bam Adebayo, and his play could end up winning the Eastern Conference Finals for the Boston Celtics

Robert Williams has shut down Bam Adebayo, which could end up winning the Eastern Conference Finals for the Boston Celtics

Williams has done a superb job of slowing down Miami's star center Bam Adebayo, and the Heat have struggled to make up for his lost production

ralph-sampson-min

The story of the original NBA unicorn

This guy is the closest thing we have to a Giannis Antetokounmpo comparison.

kenny anderson copy

That time when the New Jersey Nets shared showers with truckers

Compared to how teams operate these days, this is a pretty bizarre experience.

Danny Green on Gregg Popovich's greatness

Danny Green on why Gregg Popovich is good: "Because he believes he should've played in the NBA"

ccording to Danny Green, not playing in the NBA made Gregg Popovich great at what he does

Paul George reveals he struggled with sleepp inside the NBA Bubble

Paul George reveals he had sleepless nights for two weeks inside the 2020 NBA Bubble

Paul George became "Pandemic P" inside the Orlando Bubble and he revealed the reason behind his poor performances.

luka-doncic-jj-redick-larry-bird-magic-johnson-min

"It's not his fault they can't make shots"-JJ Redick defends Luka Doncic's ability to make teammates better

Redick thinks Luka is better than Magic Johnson and Larry Bird when it comes to making players around him better.

Gilbert Arenas reveals everybody hated Kobe Bryant's Mamba Mentality

Gilbert Arenas spills cold truth on Kobe Bryant: "Everybody hated the Mamba Mentality"

Gilbert Arenas dished out some truth bombs about Kobe Bryant's dreaded mantra

Magic Johnson wants the Lakers to give Russell Westbrook another chance

Magic Johnson advises the Los Angeles Lakers to keep Russell Westbrook: “Take him out, take him to dinner”

Magic Johnson said that keeping Russell Westbrook for another year is better than trading him in exchange for long-lasting bad contracts.