Kobe Bryant’s first coach at the Los Angeles Lakers remembered Bryant on Sunday as a superstar who was “so much more than a basketball player.”
“He was easy to coach,” Del Harris, who coached the Lakers from 1994-95 to 1998-99, said. “He didn’t require any motivation at all. He gave 100% all the time, wanted to be better all the time.”
Harris is now vice president of the Texas Legends, the NBA G League team based in Frisco and affiliated with the Dallas Mavericks.
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Harris, who was a Mavericks' assistant coach from 2000-01 through 2009-10, first met Bryant when he coached Bryant’s father, and Kobe Bryant was just 4 years old.
Eleven years later, Bryant was 17 when Harris drafted him to play for the Lakers.
"One of the first things I remember is he wasn't able to participate in training camp because he broke his hand playing pickup ball in Venice Beach because he just couldn't wait for the season to start,” Harris said. “He had to play."
Harris said Bryant studied the greats before him like Michael Jordan and mastered their every move.
But he said he will remember Bryant for more than just his skill on the court.
"He was so much more than a basketball player,” Harris said. “He was multi-lingual. Very fluent in Italian and Spanish. Super intelligent person."
Intelligent, and a dedicated father and husband too.
"He had really become a great person,” Harris said.
Harris said he planned on going to California for Bryant’s funeral – the last thing he ever expected.
“It’s a shock to every who knew him,” Harris said.