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.
"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.