As far as father-son NBA duos go, few have been more successful than Joe “Jellybean” Bryant and his son Kobe, who passed away tragically January 26 in a helicopter accident along with his daughter Gianna.
A 6-foot-9 forward, Joe was a first-round pick of the Golden State Warriors in 1975 who played eight years in the NBA before heading overseas, where he spent a great deal of time raising his son. He never quite lived up to his immense talent, but his son was able to finish what he started (and then some) by cashing in his athletic gifts to become one of the greatest players of all-time.
Recently, Joe was asked by Heavy.com about what it’s like raising a second generation professional basketball player and the competitive advantage his son had over other kids.
“Well I figure it is helpful in sense that our children get a chance to meet or go places where the normal child doesn’t get a chance to go to you know? Meaning that after a game, when you’re 10, 11, or 12 years old you can go in the locker room and talk to Magic or talk to Kareem, or talk to George Gervin or whatever the case may be, you get a chance to get on the court and shoot around with them where a lot of kids don’t get that opportunity so, and then also they understand the ups and downs and the challenges that their parents went through, that their father went through it in the sport,” he said.
Joe Bryant played for the 76ers, San Diego Clippers, and Houston Rockets before heading overseas. His son finished fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 33,643 points, winning five championships with the LA Lakers.
Kobe was only five years old when his dad finished out his eighth and final NBA season, but he still had the opportunity to follow him around and shadow his skills for several years before Joe hung up his sneakers in 1992, after playing for three Italian teams and one French squad.
Old school advice and encouragement were the foundation of Kobe’s success according to his dad.
“As parents we try to give our kids advice just to stay focused, work hard and those type of things that you been through…So that’s the advantage.”
In this case, it clearly worked, as those are the qualities that describe Kobe to a tee.
Kobe’s parents were both said to be “devastated” by the loss of their son following his accident.
Joe and Kobe’s relationship had grown in recent years according to Kobe’s former coach and Joe’s friend Wayne Slappy, as quoted by ClutchPoints.com, after some previously rocky times during which Kobe criticized his family’s selling of his memorabilia.
“I just remember being with him up at his camp in Santa Barbara and seeing him hug his dad. You know how they loved each other from how they looked at each other, how they smiled,” Slappy, Kobe’s former coach and one of Joe’s friends, said according to ClutchPoints.
Kobe’s Dad’s career stats
Bryant averaged 8.7 points, 4 rebounds and nearly 2 assists per game during his NBA career, shooting 45% from the field.
A powerful player and a high-flyer, Bryant worked the baseline, soared over bigger defenders for dunks, and generally thrilled crowds while turning in a solid NBA career that had the potential to be so much more.
Check out the highlights below, including a drive that ended in a monster dunk over none other than Kareem Abdul Jabbar himself at the 47-second mark:
Thumbnail photo via ClutchPoints.com.