The competitive nature and toughness of the late Lakers’ Legend Kobe Bryant have been well-chronicled and highly regarded over the years. It was not just limited to his playing days, as has been revealed by several fascinating stories that have come up over the years and especially after his tragic death back in January 2020. One such tale was confirmed by Mavs’ superstar Luka Doncic.
In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, weeks before Kobe’s death, Luka Doncic talked about a brief moment he shared with the Hall of Famer during a then-recent game between the Lakers and the Mavericks at Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant hurled verbal abuse at Luka Doncic in Slovenian
As Luka was preparing to inbound the ball from the sidelines in the second quarter, he overheard someone talking to him in his first language, Slovenian, and was obviously surprised. He decided to look who it was, and it turned out to be none other than the Mamba himself.
3 YEARS AGO TODAY 💜💛
LUKA on the heckling fan at the Lakers/Mavs game: “He was talking Slovenian. So I was like, ‘Who’s talking my language?’ I saw Kobe and was really surprised.” pic.twitter.com/5d0MdE67gc
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 29, 2022
“I can’t say that”, Doncic replied when asked about what Kobe said to him in his native lingo. Though he did make it clear that it was a few unprintable words that were bolted out by the Black Mamba to the young superstar. He added, “Somebody was talking in Slovenian so I turned around and I saw Kobe. I was surprised. I was shocked.”
Luka proceeded to dap up the 5-time NBA champion and later described the whole interaction as ‘amazing’ and ‘something he’ll never forget’. Doncic even took a photo later with Kobe and his daughter Gianna, who had accompanied him to the game.
The young Mav had hoped to experience more such moments with the Mamba, albeit “a terrible thing happened”, Doncic later expressed when talking about Kobe’s unfortunate death. After the incident, Luka paid homage to the legend and his daughter by wearing sneakers with a tribute message.
Luka Doncic and Kobe Bryant were friends?
This brief interaction was not the first one for Luka and Kobe, as they had known each other for quite some time before. Doncic had met Kobe around August 2018 after getting drafted and had also posted a photo of them together on his official Twitter handle.
— Luka Doncic (@luka7doncic) August 30, 2018
Once on JJ Redick’s “The Old Man and the Three” podcast, Doncic talked a little about some advice Kobe gave to him. Having known the league for more than 20 years, Kobe advised Luka about being in the NBA as an overseas player –
“It was in Portland just after I was drafted,” he revealed. “We were at the Nike campus, he was there and the one advice he gave me was ‘Watch out, they’re going to go after you because you’re from Europe. They’re going to try to go after you.’ And it was true”.
Even after his passing, Kobe continues to be an inspiration for players in and out of the league.