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.

Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd explains why he isn’t too concerned with the Dallas Mavericks' slow start to the season

Kidd believes that the Mavs are figuring things out slowly but surely, and ensured fans that they won't be winning any awards for the first 20 games of the season

Charles Barkley & Erik Spoelstra

Charles Barkley believes it's time for the Miami Heat to break the team up and start over

Barkley pondered whether or not it was time for the Heat to start from scratch amid their 11-14 run in the first 25 games of the season

Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson

“It looked like me and Shaq had a baby” — when Chuck had Shaq dying laughing with his Zion comment

One year later, Zion proved he's put in the work and is leading the New Orleans Pelicans to the playoffs.

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant and Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas

"It was intelligent trash talking, when you played him you’re playing a mental war" — Gilbert Arenas shares his experience trash-talking Kobe Bryant

Former Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas outlines what it was like to receive trash-talking from Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

Former NBA player Stephen Jackson

"They gave me a check for $25,000 cash, I blew it all in one day" — Stephen Jackson reveals he blew his first NBA paycheck

Former three-point specialist Stephen Jackson reveals how he and Mike Bibby spent his first NBA pay check in a few hours.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and New Orleans Hornets guard Devin Brown

“I think we can pay you a little bit more than that” — When Gregg Popovich saved Devin Brown from an overnight stocker job

Thanks to Gregg Popovich's training camp invite, Devin Brown was able to live his NBA dream.

Dennis Rodman

"How was the nightlife with Dennis Rodman?" — questions that Chicago Bulls big man Luc Longley absolutely hated

Even those outside Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman were annoyed with repetitive questions.