It’s the first « Kobe Day » since Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, and fans across the country have shared their thoughts and memories about the Los Angeles Lakers superstar. Renowned NBA photographer Andrew Bernstein joined in on the celebration on the John Roa Show, by sharing some of his insights about Bryant, and his similarities to Michael Jordan.
« I wasn’t around Michael as much, but they both had that look in their eye, that assassin’s look, » said Bernstein. « They relished, they absolutely relished at the most complex, the most nerve-wracking time. Just give them the ball. »
Bernstein got his start shooting photos for the NBA at the 1983 All-Star game and recalls meeting Bryant when he was 17 years old. Over the course of his career he says he got to know Bryant pretty well and cited Tim Grover, a trainer for both Bryant and Jordan, for lighting on a key difference between the two players.
« They both worked out hard, » Bernstein said. « They both were religious workaholics in terms of their physical fitness and being in shape. The difference was that Michael didn’t care about the ‘why.’ Michael just wanted to get stronger, get bigger, and get in the best possible shape he could be.
« Kobe was relentless about asking about the ‘why.’ Like, ‘Why are we doing this exercise? Why are we working on these muscles?’ And that was really the difference between the two of them. »
That story tracks with the narrative of Bryant being one of the game’s most dedicated students, in addition to one of the most talented players. In ‘The Last Dance,’ one episode explores the big brother/little brother relationship between the two players, and expands on Bryant asking tons of questions, trying to learn as much as he could from Jordan.
« I had a question about shooting his turnaround shot so I asked him about it, » Bryant recalled while discussing the first time he met Jordan at the 1998 All-Star Game. « He gave me a great detailed answer, but on top of that, he said, ‘If you ever need anything, give me a call.' »
« He used to call me, text me, 11:30, 2:30, 3 o’clock in the morning, » Jordan said during Bryant’s memorial service. « Talking about post-up moves, footwork and sometimes, the triangle. At first, it was an aggravation. But then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know.
« Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends, » he said. « But we were very close friends. Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother. »
Kobe Day: NBA photographer explains how Bryant, Michael Jordan differed originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
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