Kobe Bryant finds a friend in Bill Belichick
Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant gave a candid and exclusive interview in Boston the other day, detailing his thoughts on the Boston-LA rivalry, but most notably his new-found friendship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Make no mistake about it, Kobe seems as if he abhors Boston sports (as any respected rival should); however, he said has grown rather close to Belichick and tight end Rob Gronkowski over the past two years.
Bryant recounted a poignant moment in his career, the 131-92 thrashing the Celtics gave the Lakers in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals. Bryant (7 of 22) had a poor game that night, and Belichick had courtside seats to see it all up close and personal. Although he was cheering on his Boston Celtics, he could not help but notice Kobe’s dejection at the realization the season was over.
“I’m sitting there on the bench, just beside myself, burning with frustration, and I look over and Bill Belichick is walking toward me,” Kobe recalled. “I had never met him. Never spoken to him. He had courtside seats across from our bench, and with 20 seconds left in the game, he came over and said, ‘Don’t you worry about this. I know what you are going through. We just lost a tough one ourselves [to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII]. Just bounce back. Be ready next year.’”
It was unexpected to say the least; Belichick is known for his steely and stern demeanor, yet in that instant he showed Kobe compassion from a man who knows what it feels like to lose at a high level. Belichick could have watched the Celtics and cheered like everyone else, yet he saw Bryant sitting there on the bench as the game ended and he chose to pick him up and remind him that when it comes to sports, there is always a second chance.
Kobe’s friendship with Belichick continued to grow, so much so that the coach even visits the Laker’s locker room to talk to the team. Bryant said he has also grown close to Gronkowski.
“I’m hoping Gronk will be [at the game],” Kobe said. “I like him. He seems to perform at a high level every time out. Last time we were in town we talked for a little bit. He was a fun guy.”
While the Celtics-Lakers rivalry may remain one of the biggest in all of sports, Kobe Bryant can still reach out across the country to connect with fellow athletes who can guide him and be there for him in his successes and failures. Who knows? Maybe Kobe will give Belichick a ring before Thursday night’s game versus the Celtics.