Kobe Bryant’s final NBA season is nearly over now, and as we approach his final game, expect the nostalgia to hit full force, for both Kobe himself and the rest of the NBA. We’d expect that during his final rodeo, on April 13 in Los Angeles, announcers will just start listing Kobe memories every second he’s on the bench rather than calling the real game. And honestly, who could blame them?
For Kobe’s part, he’s shown a softer side this year, soaking in the memories and dishing out some new ones along the way. Some of his cooler gestures have been those chosen players to whom he’s given sneakers. As the Steph Curry Nike ordeal taught us, sneakers are incredibly meaningful to NBA players, so it’s not surprising that some of the most emotional moments of the season have involved kicks. With that in mind, Kobe was recently asked about what sneakers he received when he was a kid, rather than the ones he’s given out in his Vino stage.
Kobe’s father, a baller himself, apparently managed to score young Kobe autographed sneakers from Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal, among others.
Shaq was, hilariously, “really nice to me, actually.” Apparently, Penny Hardaway wasn’t nice at all, and Kobe said he “carried that [slight] with me the rest of my career.”
Penny was one of the most marketable NBA stars of the 1990s, but maybe now that Kobe has become roughly a million times more successful and famous, he can start to let that one go. He won’t though, because he’s still Kobe.