The legendary playing career of Kobe Bryant is in the rearview mirror, but it’s not hard to find him near the court these days. In fact, the former Los Angeles Lakers superstar guard, whose Nos. 8 and 24 jerseys hang next to several all-time greats in the rafters inside the Staples Center, sat courtside in a suit and tie Thursday night to see the franchise’s new superstar attraction play.
After watching LeBron James drop his first triple-double for the purple and gold to help the young Lakers take down the Denver Nuggets, 121-114, the player formerly known as Black Mamba, who sat alongside team general manager Rob Pelinka during the game, was spotted in the tunnel talking to former NBA great and TNT basketball analyst Reggie Miller.
The main topic of conversation? Where Bryant’s 12-year-old daughter, Gianna, was looking to play college basketball.
Of course Miller wants Gianna Bryant to stay home and go to UCLA. That’s where the sharpshooter really burst onto the scene in the 1980s before his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame career with the Indiana Pacers.
But not so fast, Reggie. It appears young Gianna really wants to leave LA and play for the UConn Huskies and head coach Geno Auriemma.
“She is hellbent on UConn,” Kobe Bryant told Miller repeatedly.
“You don’t want her to go that far,” Miller replied.
“My momma doesn’t want her to go that far,” Bryant responded, laughing.
Oh, but Gianna does, and she even got to meet the team after the Huskies beat the UCLA Bruins (ironically) 78-60 in Los Angeles last November.
There is still plenty of time before Gianna Bryant will make her decision on where to play college basketball — something Kobe skipped to enjoy an incredible 20-year NBA career — but there is clearly a leader in the clubhouse and it’s in Storrs, Connecticut.