Skip to main content

The reason Kobe Bryant was sad after winning the 2001 NBA championship

It turns out, it all goes back to Kobe's parents

A lot of people have seen the iconic photo of Kobe Bryant just sitting in the showers after winning the 2001 Finals with the trophy in his hands and looking completely emotionless. But not many people know the story behind that photo.

Kobe's parents vs. Vanessa

Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated wrote how the problems Kobe had with his parents were quite severe, mostly because of his early marriage with Vanessa. His parents didn't initially approve of that relationship, which didn't sit well with Kobe at that time.

"The falling out occurred in 2000, though neither Joe nor Kobe talks about it publicly anymore. At 21, Kobe got engaged to 18-year-old Vanessa Laine, whom he had met on the set of a video shoot when she was a high school senior. Joe did not approve," Ballard wrote

"The problem, according to the Los Angeles Times, was that Joe was "uncomfortable that Vanessa, a Latina, is not African-American, and he is uneasy with [Kobe's] selfless devotion to her," he concluded.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

"That was about my dad"

That caused separation between Kobe and his parents even to the point where they didn't come to their wedding. Joe Bryant also didn't attend any of the games in Philadelphia against the 76ers in the NBA finals.

"When Kobe and Vanessa got married the following year, Joe and Pam didn't attend the wedding. When the Lakers played three games in Philadelphia during the 2001 NBA Finals, Joe was nowhere to be found. When, at the end of that series, the Lakers triumphed and Kobe was spotted holding the trophy in the shower and crying, everyone assumed it was out of joy, or relief. But he later told the Times, 'That was about my dad."

It was especially hurting for Kobe that he was playing the Finals in his hometown of Philadelphia, where his parents lived, and they didn't show up for a single game. No matter what the situation was, Kobe stayed sharp and cold on the court as he helped the Lakers win another championship. 

He finished the five-game series averaging 24.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game -- not enough for his parents' validation, but more than enough for the ultimate basketball prize.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom with Kobe Bryant

Lamar Odom reveals Kobe Bryant came to him in his dreams: "The afterlife ain’t what people make it up to be"

Odom has such a strong tie to his Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant that he talks to him in his dreams


“F**k Dr. J, you be Shaq.” - Shaquille O’Neal recollected how his father encouraged him to create his own identity

Shaquille O'Neal's father Phillip Harrison played a major role in shaping his basketball career.

Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson reflects on his college and NBA career while also sharing what Zion Williamson needs to do be dominant in the NBA: "I think Zion needs to dunk more"

We interviewed Larry Johnson and talked about his college and NBA career while Larry also shared what Zion Williamson needs to do to be dominant in the league and why Kawhi Leonard is currently his favorite player in the NBA

Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Doncic

“I was so nervous, I couldn’t even talk” — Luka Doncic recalled the time he met Cristiano Ronaldo

There was one thing Luka wanted to ask, but was too nervous to pull the trigger on his request.

Paul Westhead and Spencer Haywood

"I drove through the streets plotting the man's murder" — When former Los Angeles Lakers forward Spencer Haywood almost killed head coach Paul Westhead

Hall of Fame legend Spencer Haywood talks us through the night he plotted to kill his head coach Paul Westhead.

Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss

"Dating somebody and disclosing that, that's not against team policy." — Robert Horry on why Phil Jackson didn't get the Ime Udoka treatment for dating Jeanie Buss

The Buss family was "extremely shocked", and unpleasantly so, but the fact the relationship was disclosed made all the difference.