Rapper Ice Cube Was More Fascinated by Young Kobe Bryant Than Shaquille O’Neal – ‘We Never Had None Like That’

Published 07/10/2021, 2:51 AM EDT
–Lakers Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant celebrate after defeating the 76ers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Philadelphia Wednesday June 13, 2001. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


Kobe Bryant was arguably one of the best players to play for the Lakers franchise. Donning the Purple and Gold, Bryant led the Lakers to five world championships and was arguably the face of the league for the 2000s decade.

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Drafted in the 1996 class featuring players like Allen Iverson and Ray Allen, Bryant wasn’t seen as the biggest name in the class. Coming out directly from the Lower Merion High School, Bryant was one of the most scrutinized rookies.

Rapper Ice Cube explains why he was more fascinated by Kobe Bryant

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Given that Bryant was only a 18-year-old when he made his debut, he was rarely given the opportunity to star in the team. The Lakers, meanwhile, had a legitimate superstar in Shaquille O’Neal in their team who signed with them in the off-season.

While Lakers’ fans were excited to see their big man, longtime fan and rapper Ice Cube had different plans. In a recent appearance at All the Smoke podcast, the veteran rapper explained how he was more fascinated with a 18-year-old Bryant.

“He got loose and dunked and I just told my wife I said, ‘you know, we never had none like that.’ I just like we never had nothing like that.”

Cube also explained how he used to urge former coach Del Harris from the sidelines to sub-in a young Bryant. “So I was just on Kobe you know, even though we had Shaq, I’m just locked in on Kobe and just seeing his progression as a pro. And I’m yelling, ‘Del Harris put him in, put in Kobe.'”

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A rookie Bryant certainly hadn’t the best of starts in the NBA. Given that the league was still more supportive on players coming out of college, Kobe wasn’t the most trusted rookie. Even a team like the Lakers to start off his career meant that he had to perform at the highest level possible to gain the coach’s trust.

After a season of mediocre performances, Bryant made a resounding jump though. Becoming a solid sixth man for the team, ‘Black Mamba‘ eventually became a mainstay in the Purple and Gold and as they say, the rest is history.

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Aditya Mohapatra

1001 articles

Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.

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