Joe Bryant Rumors
“Mike wasn’t just a player,” said Marco Crespi, a professional coach in Italy and former assistant of D’Antoni in Milan and with the Phoenix Suns. “He was a franchise player. The difference maker.” Or, as Gheradini said: “In Italy, he was everything.” So much so he caught the eye of an American kid living in Italy at the time named Kobe Bryant, whose father, Joe Bryant, was a teammate of D’Antoni’s on Olimpia Milano. D’Antoni was a revelation to Bryant, who was still in the process of formulating his skill set and would study the best players of the day trying to mimic and steal aspects of their game to incorporate into his own. “Growing up, I tried to watch and learn from so many basketball players, all the top ones,” Bryant said. “He was certainly a top one. He was certainly a player that I admired. He was tough. He was a tenacious guard that made great plays. He was probably the greatest guard ever to play over there.”
Bryant was soon emulating D’Antoni and the others, taking the court at halftime of Olimpia Milano games and wooing the crowd as a precocious 12-year-old. “We’d practically have to kick him off the court to get the second-half started,” D’Antoni says now, laughing. After games the American players and their families would often hang out together, with Kobe tagging a long and listening intently as D’Antoni and the others would talk about basketball. Little did D’Antoni know he was helping spawn one of the greatest basketball players of all time. “I had no idea he’d grow up to be Kobe Bryant,” he said.
His son is arguably the National Basketball Association’s (NSA) biggest star. But even though Joe Bryant is very proud of son Kobe and his achievements, he prefers to be known as his own man, and not the father of the five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and double Olympic medallist. “Of course I am proud of what Kobe is doing. He is my own flesh and blood. But I have never used his name to take me places,” said Joe in an interview with TODAY in Johor Bahru recently. “I don’t go around introducing myself as his father, that’s for sure. But I can’t help when people say, ‘Ah so, you are the father of Kobe Bryant’.”
The Singapore Slingers recorded their third consecutive win in the AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League when they handed the Bangkok Cobras a 73-48 loss. The Cobras, coached by Joe Bryant, father of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, matched the Slingers point for point only during the first quarter. After the 14-14 first quarter, the Slingers turned up the offense and added 19 points to go into halftime at 33-21. The Slingers then stretched the lead to 52-32 after three quarters, with Wong Wei Long, Desmond Oh and Louis Graham making four big three-point plays. Wong was the leading scorer for the home team, with 15 points off the bench.
The Los Angeles Sparks have dismissed Jennifer Gillom as coach and replaced her with Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, the father of Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant who previously coached the WNBA team. General manager Penny Toler announced the move Sunday night, saying it was necessary to take the team in a different direction. “Joe’s familiarity with the Sparks organization puts us in the best possible position to compete going forward, and should make for a seamless transition,” Toler said in a statement released by the team. “We respect Jennifer’s commitment to the Sparks and understand she has faced adversity with player injuries during her tenure. That being said, with a short season and playing in the competitive Western Conference, winning games early in the year is critical and the Sparks’ goal remains to contend for a WNBA championship.”
The Los Angeles Sparks have made a change in their head coaching position with Joe “Jellybean” Bryant replacing Jennifer Gillom effective immediately, it was announced Sunday by Sparks Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler.