PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Joe ‘Jellybean’ Bryant is a true Philadelphia basketball head.
Bryant started his hoops career at John Batrum High School, then went to LaSalle University, and even played his first four NBA seasons with the 76ers. So when his son — and Lower Merion standout — Kobe Bryant played against his hometown team in the 2001 NBA Finals, he was conflicted.
“I remember when the Lakers played the Sixers in the [2001 NBA] finals,” Bryant told the Brown and Scoop podcast on CBS Radio’s Play.it network. “And they would say, ‘Well who ya rooting for?’
“I said, ‘We’ll you know Philly, I’m always Philly — I always rooted for Philly, I even for the Flyers and the Eagles,'” Bryant said. “You know what I mean? And the Phillies because you’re from Philly. And I said, ‘Well listen, I can’t lose.’ You have Philly and Lakers, you can’t lose, your emotions — you always root for your son to win the championship and all that. But you know, I thought that was really interesting time or period being a hometown Philly boy, you always root for your home teams. But watching Kobe perform against someone as great as Allen Iverson, soon to be a Hall Of Famer also, that was a great experience watching that finals.”
Joe Bryant, discussing his son’s retirement, admitted he’ll always be a Lakers fan now.
“I still enjoy watching Lakers and if he’s not there I’m still gonna watch the Lakers game because you become a fan when your child is playing for them.”