Kobe Bryant was one of Los Angeles’ favorite sons. Indeed, the outpouring of love and respect that the legendary Laker and all-around sports icon has received following his tragic death from a helicopter crash that also took the lives of his beloved 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, has been omnipresent. And no more so than in Hollywood, the place where Kobe was a STAR among stars.
With The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences honoring Kobe at the upcoming Oscars ceremony, the following list celebrates the 10 ways Tinsel Town showed love for a man who meant so much more to pop culture than just a towering hoops hero. Rest In Power, Black Mamba.
Kobe Bryant’s first scripted television appearance in the classic HBO sports agent comedy showed the young 17-year-old was quite the natural. But what really is made apparent in this behind-the-scenes footage is how secure Kobe was in being…Kobe.
Talk about META episodes. Kobe--who would go on to escort the multi-platinum star of Moesha, Brandy Norwood, to prom--plays a star high school basketball player (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRGTpLnJR-Q) who asks her to take the SAT’s for him out of fear of losing a sports scholarship. In real life, however, Bryant was a good B-average student and scored 1080 on his SAT’s.
Sister Sister (1996)
Kobe shoots a commercial at the high school of twin sisters Tia and Tamera. The girls are throwing a party. Their bougie nemesis Melissa is also throwing a party and she’s invited Kobe (!!!). Cue laugh track.
Daddy's Home (2015)
This scene from the Will Ferrel and Mark Wahlberg comedy is a simple meet-and-greet with a young Lakers fan totally enamored with meeting his idol. It’s a scene that Kobe has publicly lived out seemingly millions of times. Indeed, while it’s true that the obsessively competitive guard would run over his own teammate to make a basket, Kobe loved the kids.
Modern Family (2010)
What makes this appearance so hilarious is the beyond striking self-awareness of Kobe. The sports icon wasn’t afraid to tap into his dogged reputation for perpetually being in game mode when he meets the Dunphy family before a big matchup. “What can I do for you,” Kobe asks Phil Dunphy?”
“Do you like being a basketball player?” he answers back, as a baffled Kobe looks on. An overwhelmed Phil realizes the flub and admits, “I choked. I didn’t think you’d look up here at me.”
That’s when no. 24 goes full Black Mamba mode. “A little preparation next time,” he shoots back. “It’s a mental game.”
Proud Family (2003)
Yes, that’s actually Kobe providing his own voice in cartoon form (at the 9:36 mark). Not only does he speak fluent Italian (Kobe’s second language) to Penny’s precocious best friend Dijonay Jones, but he manages to knock down every basket during an audition for a Million Dollar Shot competition—even with no hands.
Jalen vs. Everybody (2017)
Let’s start off with the fact that the wildly hilarious Jalen vs. Everybody, the one and done ABC pilot starring NBA hoops vet and TV commentator Jalen Rose, deserved a pick-up. Perhaps the funniest bit of all is the scene where Jalen bumps into Kobe at a restaurant.
From there, Bryant lets loose with the jokes as he jabs Rose, reminding his former competitor of his legendary 81-point game. When a waiter asks Kobe how many olives he wants in his martini he cracks, “81,” staring at the former Michigan star who guarded him throughout his classic 2006 performance before musing, “No, I’m just playing…just two.”
Kobe and LeBron Nike Commercials
Over the decades, Nike has dropped some pretty memorable commercials. But their 2009 campaign featuring a puppet Kobe and LeBron James may just be their most laugh-out-loud series ever.
Voiced to absurd perfection by Kenan Thompson and David Allen Grier, respectively, the ads work because they play off the two basketball giant’s public personas. Kobe is supremely serious, cocky and not above teasing the slightly younger James that he has yet to win a ring (he finally gets it done in 2012). And James annoyingly makes it known that he is the triple double-amassing Chosen One. Add Lil Dez in the mix and you won’t be able to stop chuckling.
While CBS’ Bette did not make it past season one, it did provide a few standout moments. One in particular was Kobe’s cameo on the Bette Midler sitcom in which the Divine Miss M accidently injures the baller’s finger after harassing him for courtside seats to a Lakers game. But you just know in a real-life scenario that would not have stopped Mamba from dropping 30.
Kobe Wins An Oscar (2018)
Kobe won five championships, an MVP and made 18 All-Star teams during his epic 20-season career. So, what did he do for an encore? He won an Academy Award for his animated short film Dear Basketball. The man’s greatness knew no bounds.