Kobe Bryant Shot Hoops At The Summit As A Child

Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, an all-time great athlete was hanging out right here in Houston

Brandon Scott
January 27, 2020 - 1:45 pm

When longtime NBA writer Fran Blinebury arrived to Houston to cover the Rockets in 1982, it was Joe Bryant's last season in the league. 

Bryant had played four seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, three with the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Clippers and was in his final NBA season before taking his basketball career overseas. 

Bryant had been traded to the Houston Rockets, which Fran remembers as a "god awful" 14-68 team, which led to them drafting Ralph Sampson. 

But Joe Bryant would bring to practice his 4-year-old son, who the world later discovered to be Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star.

Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, an all-time great athlete was hanging out at The Summit right here in Houston.

This was before Kobe could even hit the rim consistently. 

"He'd let the kid go out there, sometimes before they started practice and they'd hang out after practice when the guys were in taking showers, cooling down, and the little kid would be out there just as full of himself as any 4-year-old could be -- out there dribbling the basketball, determined," Fran told In The Loop on Monday. "A 4-year-old kid out there on the floor at The Summit and he's trying to jack that ball up to the basket. 

"Sometimes he'd graze the rim, sometimes it get over the top and get in there. Most of the time, it didn't. But it never stopped him. That 4-year-old kid was Kobe Bryant. On more than one occasion, Joe and I talked about the kid and he told me he's incredibly determined."

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Fran also reflected on Kobe's rookie season, when the Lakers lost to the Utah Jazz in the playoffs. 

Kobe infamously shot four airballs down the stretch of that game, but it foreshadowed the unwavering confidence and fearlessness we'll ultimately remember about Kobe. 

The man was unafraid to fail.

"That was an insight, right then," Fran said. "How I'm not changing. I'm going to be who I am. I'm so supremely confident the next shot is going in. And that's who he became. Remember, this Kobe that everybody's talking about today, this icon, this incredible offensive force, this guy that nobody could stop. He holds records that most people don't realize -- missed more shots than anyone in NBA history."

Listen to the entire Fran Blinebury interview here:


 

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