Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Bryant on Broadway
"Trust me on this one, I'll detach you..."
Jay-Z - Takeover
New York, NY - February 2, 2009 - Black History Month continues here on GAME TIME, as Kobe Bryant took the liberty of making his-story on the biggest stage in basketball.
Second to none
I haven't been in New York since the summer, so when an opportunity arose to travel to Gotham City to cover the Knicks versus the Lakers...I didn't hesitate. My career in pro basketball started in Madison Square Garden, with the New York Knicks, and Liberty. I did my internship with those teams, the summer before my senior year at Temple University. There is a saying that has something to the effect of "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere...", and the city that never sleeps is tough, but I was able to learn, and grow, as well as make a name for myself there. With that experience, I've been able to build on that success to have a solid career in journalism.
I made sure to arrive early so I could catch Bryant during the afternoon shoot around. I noticed that he and assistant coach Brian Shaw were on one end of the court while some of the other guys on the team were shooting around and joking on the other side. Kobe was in one of his more focused moods, but after he was finished he walked over and addressed me and then the media. Once he was done with the media availability I walked with him down the hallway to the elevator...I told him that I'd heard from his sister on facebook, and I asked him what he was doing with his shoes after the game?
What would happen a few hours later, would be a lasting memory that I am sure my children will hear about one day. My friend and coworker Audie, mentioned a few times throughout the day that Bryant would have a BIG game against his hometown Knicks. Side note about the Knickerbockers, I am really impressed with Danilo Gallinari, he is a decent player that will only get better. It was interesting to see him and Kobe speak with one another during the game, in Italian no less. Trust me on this on Gallinari is legit.
Before the game began, people from the Garden not only remembered me, but they also showed a genuine love and respect for me. That made me feel really good, as I know that I did my best during the time I worked there. Once the game started, I saw the stars were in attendance, as Mariano Rivera, Jay-Z, Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, America Ferrera, and John McEnroe, watched KB go on such an offensive tear that I figured this would become one of his many 40-point games. What I didn't figure, was that it would be the most historic night offensively in the current Madison Square Garden, which was built in 1968.
He scored 61 points, as he made a perfect 20-20 from the free-throw line. It was the 4th best offensive outing for his career, which was good enough for the best since Bernard King scored 60 points on December 25, 1984.
With 18 points in the 1st quarter and 34 by halftime, the Garden was electric as I would have to agree that it is the most hollowed place by far to play a basketball game in. Bryant had 12 points in the 3rd quarter, and evened everything out with 15 in the 4th. It was truly an amazing game, and afterward I had an opportunity to interview Kobe...however I forgot to ask him if his shoes had anything to do with it, as he was wearing his new Nike Zoom Kobe IV.
Kobe after throwing his very own "Garden" party, answered questions (click on the link to see Kobe, and listen for my questions at the end) for several minutes, and as he made his exit...he and I walked and talked about his team, and Black History Month.
He is the final score on our conversation:
Talk about this team and how things are a year later, after making the NBA Finals:
"Better prepared..better prepared, you know a lot of guys, it was their first time, you know Pau [Gasol] it was his first time out of the first round, and he goes all the way to the Finals...so a lot of things were new, so I think having a year of experience, and also...you know, learning a lot from that series, 'cause we learned a lot, so now we take those lessons and apply them to this season."
What are your thoughts on Black History Month, because a lot of people don't mention sports in that?
"Sure, sure...well it's a celebration of all of it, it's a big time of the year for us, and Martin Luther King Day, and having [President Barack] Obama being inaugurated the day after that, and now we have Black History Month...it's great, it's a great year for us."
With all that you have done, and then scoring 61 points tonight in Madison Square Garden...you have made a mark within Black History Month:
"Man it feels incredible, it feels incredible, and we obviously have to take the responsibility as African-American athletes and we try to do our best to live up to that."