Kobe Bryant stories you haven’t heard before on NBC Sports’ Uncovered podcast


It feels like, in the year since his tragic and shocking death, we have heard all the Kobe Bryant stories.

Kobe the prodigy. Kobe the young buck. Kobe the champion. Kobe and the mamba mentality. Kobe the mentor. Kobe the girl dad.

But there are stories you probably have not heard, and the latest episode of the Sports Uncovered podcast from NBC Sports — which drops Jan. 21 — has them.

The podcast is titled: Sports Uncovered: My favorite Kobe story.

It is a must-listen as they explore the complex and fascinating person that was Kobe Bean Bryant.

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

For example, you probably know the story of the game in 2002 when Kobe took 47 shots against the Boston Celtics (and shot 17-47). When he was asked after the game if he felt he had to take that many with Shaquille O’Neal out that night, Kobe’s response was both brutal and vintage Kobe.

“No,” he said. “I felt like I had a better chance at making a shot 1-on-5 as opposed if my teammates were wide open.”

The story you probably haven’t heard is from the next day at practice, as told by Laker teammate (and future NBA coach) Brian Shaw to Tom Haberstroh:

“So we get back to L.A. and we’re watching film, and Phil Jackson piped in the interview as part of the film session. And then said, ‘how do you guys feel about what your teammate said about you?’ And Rick Fox stood up and he got real emotional and he was like, ‘Man, how do you think that makes us feel?’ and was going off on Kobe. And Kobe just looked at him right in the eyes and said, ‘Rick, you can get mad all you want, but that’s really how I feel.’…

“And so I had to kind of take a step back and in a weird way, it makes you feel like, you know what, if you gotta go in a fox hole with somebody, that’s the mentality of a guy you want to have that feels that he can take everybody out by himself.”

The podcast is filled with those kinds of stories. It has former Oregon and current WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu discussing her eulogy at Kobe and Gigi Bryant’s memorial. It has Olympic gold medalists Usain Bolt and April Ross.

It has Shane Battier — one of the many “Kobe stoppers” over the years who had limited success in that role — talking about his face-guarding technique on defending Bryant. Did it work?

“Well, the answer is, in the end it worked. But not for the reasons you think. I knew that Kobe, being the alpha male he was, would never admit to that technique having an effect on him. And he will go out of his way to show the world that this technique didn’t work. That he was impervious to it. How is the only way to disprove that theory? By taking more mid-range jumpers, which was his weakness. And so, he may have hit more, but he took away his best shot which was driving into the paint, drawing fouls, kicking to teammates, finishing at an unbelievable rate, just to prove me wrong.”

Interviews on the podcast include Kobe’s Lower Merion High School head coach Gregg Downer, through people who covered him in the NBA. Marc Spears, now of The Undefeated at ESPN, talks about how Kobe studied and prepped for everything — including meeting fans after the game.

Spears describes how Kobe got a “scouting report” on a 7-year-old named Cameron with a speech impediment that he met after a game at Staples Center.

“Kobe comes out the locker room and yells, ‘Where’s Cameron at? Where’s Cameron at?’ Cameron sheepishly puts his hand up like, here I am. Goes up to him, Cameron’s like frozen, his friends are frozen. He hugs Cameron, and he hugged like his two friends. And then he asked them how they’re doing at school and asks them if they play basketball and gives them some basketball motivational words.”

Kobe impacted Cameron’s life in ways he may not have ever realized.

“So all of a sudden, it went across the school, that Cameron knew Kobe. And the big kid, the shy kid who had dealt with this speech impediment when he was a child, all sudden the whole school was wanting to be his friend. Just cause he knew Kobe Bryant.”

There is so much more, such as LA Times columnist LZ Granderson talking about the growth of Kobe after he used — and paid a fine for — an anti-gay slur to insult referee Bennie Adams during a game in 2011.

“By 2014, I would say Kobe’s worldview had shifted from one of someone who didn’t necessarily have a problem with gay people, to someone who spoke up on behalf of gay people.”

The stories go on and on, like Kobe torching Isaiah “J.R.” Rider in after practice, and much more.

Check out the Sports Uncovered podcast from NBC Sports, and spend some time remembering Kobe as one of the great personalities in sport.

Milwaukee Bucks reportedly to hire Adrian Griffin as head coach

Detroit Pistons v Toronto Raptors
Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

Buzz had been growing for a week that Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin was the favorite Bucks coaching candidate of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Nick Nurse had his backers in the organization, but in a superstar-driven league, the wishes of players like the Greek Freak hold a lot of sway (especially with him up for a new contract in a couple of years).

The Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly hiring Griffin as their next head coach, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This reaction from Fred VanVleet should tell you all you need to know about how the Raptors players felt about Griffin.

This hire is a gamble by the Bucks, turning the keys of a contender over to a rookie coach, but Griffin is more than deserving of a shot. Griffin spent eight years as a role player in the NBA — after going undrafted out of Seton Hall hand having to play in the Philipines — and then got into coaching, starting as an assistant in Milwaukee from 2008-2010. Griffin is seen as a defensive-first coach with a strong player development background (he worked with Jimmy Butler in Chicago). He’s been at or near the top of the “guys who deserve a shot” list for years and was in consideration for the open Raptors job in Toronto.

Instead, he now takes over a contender, although with a roster that is getting older and more expensive fast (free agent center Brook Lopez turns 35 this year, Khris Middleton is 31 and has a $40.4 million player option, Jrue Holiday is 31 and extension eligible come the fall).

Griffin will replace Mike Budenholzer, who was let go despite winning a championship with this team in 2021. Budenholzer is a process guy and was considered too rigid and slow to make adjustments in the playoffs, and this year’s first-round elimination by the No. 8 seed Miami Heat was seen as the culmination of that (even though Antetokounmpo missed two games due to a back injury). Griffin will bring a different voice and some new looks to a Bucks team still in its championship window.

Don’t be surprised if the Bucks hire a former NBA head coach to be Griffin’s lead assistant, to give him a veteran voice as a sounding board.

Nurse had been considered one of the frontrunners for this job, but now looks like someone destined to land in Philadelphia or Phoenix.

Heat guard Gabe Vincent reportedly to play in Game 6


Officially, Heat guard Gabe Vincent is listed as questionable for a critical Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night. He missed Game 5 due to a sprained ankle suffered late in Game 4 but was a partial participant in Saturday’s shootaround, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

However, a report from Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports points to what everyone expects: Vincent will play in Game 6.

Miami needs him back if they are going to win Game 6 at home and end this series (the Heat lead the series 3-2).

Not just because Vincent has averaged 17.5 points per game this series, but because of his ball handling and shot creation. In the second half of Game 4 and through Game 5, the Celtics changed their defensive game plan, becoming aggressive at jumping passing lanes, bringing doubles on drivers, and trying to force turnovers. During the regular season the Celtics were a bottom-five team in forcing turnovers by design — they bet that their impressive one-on-one defenders could make shots difficult and so off-ball defenders largely stayed home on guys off the ball and didn’t take risks. That changed and Miami struggled to adjust in Game 5, with Kyle Lowry — starting in place of Vincent — having three costly early turnovers.

Vincent back in the lineup could help counter the Celtics’ defense. Miami also needs great games from Jimmy Butler (who looked tired in Game 5) and Bam Adebayo, who also had an off game in Boston.

The Heat want no part of a Game 7, they need to close this series out Saturday night. They need Vincent to do that.

Coaching carousel update: Nick Nurse has strong, not universal, support in Milwaukee


Five open coaching jobs remain around the NBA: Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons.

Here is the latest on the searches to fill those openings.

UPDATE: The Milwaukee Bucks will hire Adrian Griffin as their new head coach.


• Nick Nurse may be the first domino to fall with him having drawn interest from the Suns, Bucks and 76ers. Nurse has strong support in Milwaukee, but it’s not universal, reports Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

So it’s worth noting that, as of earlier this week, Nick Nurse’s candidacy had strong support within the organization. Though not all key stakeholders in Milwaukee were aligned on Nurse, per SNY sources.

• Nurse has interviewed in Phoenix as well. Their top target was current Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, according to multiple reports, but Begley reinforces what has been reported here at NBC Sports and other places: The Clippers are not expected to part ways with Lue. Even if they do, the Clippers will not let their coach walk to a division rival in Phoenix.

• Momentum appears to be building behind Suns’ assistant coach Kevin Young getting a promotion in Phoenix, with Marc Stein reporting he got a key endorsement.

Word is Young, who has also interviewed for the head coaching vacancies in Milwaukee and Toronto, has received a strong endorsement from Suns star Devin Booker.

• It would be risky to put a first-time head coach in charge of a contender in Phoenix. If new owner Mat Ishbia goes that route, look for the Suns to get a former NBA head coach to be his assistant (don’t be surprised to see that in Boston next season as well, where Joe Mazzulla is expected to remain as coach).

• Nurse, former Nets’ head coach and current Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin remain the finalists for the Bucks head coaching job. Stein reports Giannis Antetokounmpo is “intrigued” by Griffin.

• Toronto’s coaching search could be influenced by which direction team president Masai Ujiri decides to take the roster, something else up in the air. From ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on the Hoop Collective podcast (hat tip Real GM).

“In talking to folks that have been in touch with the Raptors recently, the Raptors don’t seem to know which direction they’re going to take. Whether or not they are going to focus on re-signing Fred VanVleet, extending Pascal Siakam, potentially making other roster upgrades. Or whether or not they’re going to send Fred VanVleet in a sign-and-trade, maybe investigate moving other players be it OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam.”

• Multiple reports have Bucks’ assistant Charles Lee and former UConn coach Kevin Ollie as the frontrunners to be the next head coach in Detroit. Pistons’ ownership reportedly backed the Brinks truck up to Monty Williams’ house but he was not interested, Stein reported. The buzz has been that GM Troy Weaver is backing Ollie.

• The only coaching vacancy filled so far this offseason is Ime Udoka taking the job as the Rockets’ head coach.

Karl Malone pulls in $5 million with auction of 1992 Dream Team memorabilia

USA Men's Basketball Team vs Croatia, 1992 Summer Olympics
Richard Mackson /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

At one of Karl Malone’s car dealerships in Utah, the Hall of Famer used to display some of his memorabilia from the 1992 Dream Team — game-worn jerseys from Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, among other items.

Wednesday night, Malone auctioned off 24 pieces of that memorabilia, netting him a cool $5 million, something reported by Darren Rovell at the Action Network.

The biggest seller was a game-worn Michael Jordan jersey from the USA’s 127-76 thrashing of Lithuania in the medal round, it went for more than $3 million.

Other items sold include $360,000 for a Larry Bird game-worn jersey and $230,400 for a Charles Barkley uniform.