The untimely death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant Sunday at age 41 shocked fans throughout the world.
Here in Sacramento, Bryant was an arch-rival of the Kings for nearly two decades.
CapRadio's Steve Milne spoke with former Sacramento Bee sports columnist Ailene Voisin about Sacramento's relationship with Bryant and what his career meant for the competitiveness between the two teams.
On her memories of Kobe Bryant
Well, I guess you have to start with the Western Conference Finals in 2002. I remember the Kings came back to Sacramento with the series tied three to three and they had the opportunity to win the seventh game at home. The odds heavily favor the home team in game sevens or close out games in general. And Kobe just came in and the Lakers played with the heart of a champion and the drive of a champion, and the Lakers beat the Kings in overtime. So Kobe stuck the dagger in them pretty good that day.
On Kobe's career against the Kings
Kobe loved playing here, loved playing at Arco Arena. He loved getting near the booth, the crowd, it energized him. He just loved the drama of the NBA, loved to play. And he was one of the most competitive athletes I've covered in four decades of sports. I always just marveled at his drive and his talent but also his intellect, his work ethic.
On his relationship with Kings' fans
Well, I mean, I think he loved the fact that they booed him. And that Kings-Lakers rivalry. I mean, you could say it wasn't a rivalry because the Kings never beat them in a playoff series, Kobe used to say that. But the fans, I mean, you walk in that building or the building in L.A., it's just the intensity of it. I mean, it was just a marvelous, just such an intense rivalry. Really a classic in my opinion. 2002 I mean, you just can't get past that. And I remember, the years thereafter, I would see Kobe and every time he would walk over and wag his finger at me and shake his head and just say, the Kings were the better team, they should have beat us. They should have beat us. They had their chance.
On covering Bryant over his career
I met him for the first time when he was 4years old. I covered his father Joe Jellybean Bryant when he was with the San Diego Clippers for a season. Kobe was like a lot of the younger kids of the players, the youngsters come to the games and practice, throw the balls out there. Thinking about him through the years, coming into the league at 17 years, he was the most poised 17 year old, it was ridiculous how prepared he was. Just a marvelous career.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview.
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