ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Former Indiana Pacer and University of New Mexico standout Danny Granger remembers the late great Kobe Bryant as a man loaded with athleticism and an unmatched knowledge of the game of basketball.
“The dude was literally unguardable,” said Granger. “His understanding of basketball philosophy and concepts, design and strategy was literally off the charts, because it’s very difficult to do that anyway, but to do it playing the game at such a high level and when all the pressure is on you every single night to perform. Man, Kobe was, he was a different beast.”
The former Los Angeles Lakers superstar was an 18-year all-star who played 20 years. Granger was also an all-star and had a ten-year career. He remembers one game in particular against Kobe. It was a game that could have changed his smile forever.
“He did a cross over and elbowed me in my two front teeth at a 45-degree angle back into my gum line,” said Granger. “Worst pain I ever had. After the game, the dentist had me held down in the dentist’s chair and they pulled my teeth back in place. I couldn’t chew literally for like a month. I said, ‘Kobe, I know you did that on purpose.’ He didn’t even know what I was talking about. He was just playing.”
Granger laughed when telling the story, saying he had to sit next to Kobe during one time when the NBA was meeting on a new CBA agreement. Granger said he and Kobe talked about the play again. It was all in jest.
Granger said he was glad to see Kobe embrace the last part of his life, traveling with his daughter for AAU games and mentoring young players. Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in California this past Sunday. The news still has people in the sports world shocked.