Kobe Bryant the real reason why Gary Payton joined the Lakers
In Bleacher Report’s AMA, Payton was asked about the lone season he played alongside Kobe with the Lakers during the 2003-04 season. The Glove didn’t hold back his thoughts and was quite passionate as he remembered the legendary shooting guard.
To recall, Kobe died in a helicopter crash in January last year. Bryant was together with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others as they were on their way to a basketball tournament in Kobe’s Black Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks.
“I caught Kobe when he was going through a lot with what happened in Denver. I got a chance to be his big brother. I got to know him as Kobe and not as what people were talking about with what him and Shaq were doing. Shaq is my brother and I love him to death,” Gary Payton said, referring to the sexual assault case thrown at Kobe Bryant in 2003.
“That’s the reason I went to the Lakers. To get to know Kobe the way I did was a pleasure. I hate that he’s gone and I hate that he’s not here. I miss him so much and talking to him and my kids talking to him. I love him because he’s a warrior too. He wanted things on his own and he wanted to do things on his own. When he decided to go and say he wanted the team on his own I said congratulations, beautiful. That’s what you’re supposed to do if you want to be a great and he was a great. He didn’t act like he was bigger than anyone. He asked me questions all the time and I gave him answers. It was my duty to tell him the right way to do things and it was a pleasure for me to be in his life and know him the way I did for the forty years he was on this Earth.”
While Payton spent only one year with the Lakers, it’s clear that he shared quite a bond with Kobe.
For what it’s worth, it’s not the first time the NBA legend spoke highly of Kobe, whom he always calls his “little brother.” After Bryant’s death reverberated throughout the whole world, the 52-year-old icon was one of the first people to react and express disbelief–noting how shocked he was as he seemingly can’t find the right words to say at that moment (per NBC Sports).
Payton also remembered his relationship with Kobe, saying how the Lakers guard opened up to him and asked for his advice.
Kobe may be long gone, but his impact to his fans and the people close to him will certainly stay and live on.