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The Heart-Breaking Reason Behind the Iconic Kobe Bryant Photo After the 2001 NBA Finals

Published 07/02/2020, 1:07 PM EDT

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On 15th June 2001, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Philadelphia 76ers and won the 2001 NBA Finals. It was the second consecutive title the Lakers had won. But, after this victory, a photo of Kobe Bryant did the rounds, where he sat in a shower stall with the trophy in his hand. The story behind that picture is quite emotional.

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Bryant had had a falling out with his parents. They did not approve of his choice to marry Vanessa Laine (now Vanessa Bryant) since they had multiple differences. As a result, they didn’t attend their son’s wedding. Because of these differences between them, Kobe’s father Joe Bryant didn’t attend a single game during the Finals. Chris Ballard from Sports Illustrated wrote about these problems in the Bryant family.

“The falling out occurred in 2000, though neither Joe nor Kobe talk about it publicly anymore. At 21, Kobe got engaged to 18-year-old Vanessa Laine, whom he had met on the set of a video shoot when she was a high school senior. Joe did not approve. The problem, according to the Los Angeles Times, was that Joe was uncomfortable that Vanessa, a Latina, is not African-American, and he is uneasy with [Kobe’s] selfless devotion to her.”


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Ballard also wrote, “When, at the end of that series, the Lakers triumphed and Kobe was spotted holding the trophy in the shower and crying, everyone assumed it was out of joy, or relief. But he later told the Times, ‘That was about my dad’.”

The series was played in his hometown, Philly. But keeping his emotions aside like the master he was, Bryant did his best on the court. He averaged 24.6 PPG 7.8 RPG and 5.8 APG in the five-game series against the 76ers.

Kobe Bryant and his troubled relationship with his father

In 2013, Bryant’s parents were auctioning Kobe’s high school uniforms and two rings from the 2000 Lakers’ title. These items were gifted to them by Kobe, and he was hurt when he found out about the auctioning. He tried to sue the auctioning company. Later, it was revealed that his parents were reportedly using the money to buy a new home.


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They issued a statement later, saying, “We regret our actions and statements related to the Kobe Bryant auction memorabilia. We apologize for any misunderstanding and unintended pain we have caused our son and appreciate the financial support he has provided over the years.”


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In 2016, Bryant wrote a “Letter to my Younger Self” via Players Tribune. In that heart-breaking letter, he wrote, “The most important advice I can give to you is to make sure your parents remain PARENTS and not managers.” and ended by saying, “Trust me, setting things up right from the beginning will avoid a ton of tears and heartache, some of which remains to this day.”


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Kobe was a real family man and one could see that after his retirement. He had mentioned how he doesn’t have time to catch up on the NBA because he’s busy spending time with his family. In almost all of his interviews, he would go on and on about his daughters. This was the stark difference in the relationship he had with his parents.

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Written by:

Aaron Mathew


One take at a time

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.
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