Lakers Legend Jerry West Shares a Hilarious Anecdote About Kobe Bryant’s Competitive Side

Published 01/25/2021, 8:05 AM EST
LO SANGELES, CALIFORNIA FEBRUARY 3, 2010–Lakers Kobe Bryant shakes hands with Jerry West during a ceremony at half court to honor Kobe’s record for most points by a Laker at the Staples Center Wednesday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


Ahead of Kobe’s death anniversary, old acquaintances are sharing their favorite moments of Kobe Bryant. So it is only fitting that another fellow Laker legend who played an important role in his life offered his memories of the ‘Black Mamba’.

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Jerry West enjoyed a father-son bond with Kobe. Since Kobe was just 17 years old when the Los Angeles Lakers drafted him, West was almost like a babysitter to him.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant during warmups prior to Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets in Denver May 25, 2009. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Both the players are on the Mount Rushmore of the LA Lakers and were ferociously competitive. This was to the point where West found a way to get under Kobe’s skin. He said,“I used to tell him all the time, ‘You know you foul too much’. I said, ‘You’d be out of the game in no time if you were guarding me.'”

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While Kobe famously dubbed himself as the Black Mamba, West anointed himself as the mongoose to counter him.

“I said, ‘You are the snake black mamba’. He said ‘Yes’ and I said ‘you ever heard of mongoose’. I said, ‘I’m a mongoose and they kill every black mamba’… the mongoose wins every time! He said, ‘I am not an ordinary mamba’. I said, ‘Well, I am not an ordinary mongoose either,'” said West.

Jerry West would’ve picked Kobe Bryant Number 1 in the 1996 NBA Draft

Coming out of high school, not a lot of teams had faith in Bryant and he was relatively an unknown quantity. However, the Logo, who was the Lakers’ front office executive at the time, spotted his talent. So he worked a trade with Charlotte Hornets, who originally drafted Kobe with the 13th pick, to bring him to the purple and gold.

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West had so much faith in his find that he would have picked him number 1 in a loaded draft class. “He was different, okay. You could see it, you could feel it. We honestly felt that he was the number one player taking in the draft. And there were good players there, and Allen Iverson was the first pick in the draft. But I just thought he was better than Allen,” said West.

Jerry West, GM, Kobe Bryant and Head Coach Del Harris (Photo by Steve Grayson/WireImage)

Thankfully for the LA fam, West worked his magic at that time. And even though the Philadelphia 76ers themselves got a future MVP in Iverson, he was not on Kobe’s wavelength. So safe to say, he was a draft steal who put on a show at the staples center for the next 20 years.

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Bharat Aggarwal

757 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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