S1E4: Phenom of Philly
I Am Kobe · 40 minutes ·

S1E4: Phenom of Philly

High school basketball coach Gregg Downer created a staff of assistants for the purpose of coaching Kobe Bryant. Downer knew what he had in Kobe, and he knew what kind of attention Kobe would draw from opponents, from the media, from everywhere. So he did a really smart, really innovative thing: He brought on four assistants, and each coach would have his own specialized role.

Pre-order Mike Sielski's related book: “The Rise: Kobe Bryant and the Pursuit of Immortality" (1/11/22): TheRiseOfKobeBook.com

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Our theme music is “Create Yourself” by Grover Braam feat. Justin Starling: Listen to Create Yourself on Spotify

Mike Egan, who had been a college coach in Delaware, was already on board as Lower Merion’s defensive coordinator. Downer’s older brother, Drew, had a way of talking to people, even teenagers, that put them at ease, so he would be the team’s amateur sports psychologist. Jimmy Kieserman was 26 at the time, had played Division I ball at Miami University and at Rider, and had played professionally in Israel. He was quick. He was tough. He could dunk. And he saw a news report about Kobe one night, and he called up Gregg and volunteered to help in any way he could. He became Kobe’s foil, guarding and harassing him every day at practice. Jeremy Treatman would be the team’s media-relations coordinator. He’d take care of all the interview requests, the reporters, the outside noise. And Gregg would oversee the whole operation. All this because of one 17-year-old kid. Because of Kobe.

Cover photo © Eileen Blass – USA TODAY NETWORK

“I Am Kobe” is a production of Diversion Podcasts in association with iHeartRadio. This season is written and hosted by Mike Sielski. Produced by Jacob Bronstein and directed by Mark Francis. Story editing by Jacob Bronstein with editorial direction from Scott Waxman. Editing, mixing, and sound design by Mark Francis. Production Assistant: Stephen Tompkins. Music Supervisor: Scott Velasquez for Frisson Sync. Executive Producers: Mark Francis and Scott Waxman. 

Thanks to Oren Rosenbaum, Susan Canavan, and Jeremy Treatman.

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