(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the . Bryant and his daughter were killed, along with seven others, in a helicopter crash last month.
Our basketball writer Marc Stein reflected on covering Bryant’s career for Times Insider. Here’s a condensed, edited version.
Bryant was 17 when he joined the Lakers in July 1996. I was the 27-year-old Lakers beat writer for The Los Angeles Daily News. I had been on the N.B.A. beat for only two and a half years. You can safely conclude that the supremely confident, deeply ambitious, me-against-the-world Bryant was the first player I ever covered who was 10 years younger than me.
I wound up moving away before Bryant’s first N.B.A. playoff game when a job offer from The Dallas Morning News proved too good to pass up. But shadowing Bryant almost every day for his first nine months in Los Angeles managed to keep me on his radar for the next two decades.
He never told me so, but I was convinced it was because I had been there from the rocky start, when Shaquille O’Neal could be regularly heard singing “I believe that Showboat is our future,” changing the words to the first line of Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.”
“Showboat” was Shaq’s snarky nickname for Bryant, who initially struggled to fit in on a team full of veterans.
We developed a ritual on Bryant’s visits to play in Dallas. I would hover near the loading dock at American Airlines Center to intercept him as soon as he got off the team bus. It gave me the chance to walk with him to the visitors’ locker room before the usual pack of reporters swarmed.
But it’s Bryant’s youth when we met that I’ve kept coming back to since Jan. 26, when his helicopter crashed into a hillside near Calabasas, Calif.
I can’t shake how Bryant’s beloved “Gigi,” just like her father when he became a Laker, was a mere teenager.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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