Looking back

Some unique memories of covering Kobe Bryant

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I first met Kobe Bryant in person during NBA All-Star Weekend in NYC in February 1998. The hype surrounding a potential matchup up between Kobe and Michael Jordan was at a fever pitch back then. The matchup dominated news coverage.

February 8th, 1998 was the first of Kobe's 17 All-Star Selections. Even way back then, the stories were circulating about how serious Kobe took preparation, from film study to practice was taking on an iconic status. Some teammates had to actually calm Kobe down during a bus ride during an NBA preseason contest as he was too intense and hyped up on the bus ride.

At a ripe age of 19, Kobe was the youngest All-Star in the History of the League. Throughout the game, you had a sense that a torch was being passed. Much like Dr. J in his farewell tour in 1987 was passing off the baton to Michael Jordan, MJ some twenty years later on that stage while collecting his 3rd All-Star MVP award, was laying the path for the young 19 year old phenom at MSG.

I went from covering the Jordan Bulls in Chicago in the 90's, to then relocating with our radio network to Los Angeles, just in time to witness the Kobe/Shaq "three-peat" from 2000-2002. The debates of "which combo" were more explosive, MJ and Pippen or Kobe and Shaq reigned the sports airwaves. It was rare to ever catch Kobe where he didn't want to do anything except talk about basketball. For me, after dozens and dozens of exchanges, there was only one distinct time, as we got into a conversation about his love for a movie Breakin 2 Electric Boogaloo. This was a passionate, spirited debate and one of Kobe's favorite movies. He talked about how one day his was going to make a follow up to that movie. Instead, he captured an Oscar for his animated masterpiece "Dear Basketball" two years ago.

As I sit here reflecting on Kobe, it's remarkable how quickly those years all went by, and how tragically the events transpired today. I have no doubt up in Heaven, there's a rack of basketballs and Kobe is in a gym somewhere, outworking everyone, staying and shooting for two hours after a practice.


A newly wrapped Lamborghini Huracan pays tribute to the Lakers legend. Photo courtesy of Instagram, @Kobe24Lambo

This article originally appeared on AutomotiveMap.

The owner of a 2015 Lamborghini Huracan has had his vehicle wrapped to honor the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant. Owner Joe Carbonara told TMZ Sports that he was so moved by the tragedy of the untimely demise of the Bryants that he took the silver car to get a custom wrap at X-Treme Graphics in Chicago.

The wrap features the numbers of Kobe and Gianna's jerseys - 2, 8, and 24; the names of all nine victims of the helicopter crash that killed the Bryants, unique artwork of the Bryants, and the Mamba logo. All the imagery rests on a background of Lakers purple with gold accents.

The process of wrapping the car took two days.

X-Treme Graphics shop owner Steve Zielinski told TMZ that the company did not charge for the custom job.

Continue on AutomotiveMap to find out the asking price for the car.

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