S1E5: We Need A Hero
I Am Kobe · 37 minutes ·

S1E5: We Need A Hero

When Kobe Bryant was making his rise through the high school basketball ranks, it would have been a miracle for Philadelphia's La Salle University to win an NCAA championship. It didn’t take long for people around La Salle to start thinking that maybe Kobe was going to choose to go to La Salle and become their savior. Kobe played a ton of pickup games in La Salle’s little sweatbox of a practice gym. Kobe could come to La Salle, stay for a year or two, and dominate. The school had won a national championship in 1954 and had been great in the late 1960s. If La Salle basketball was going to have any kind of renaissance, it needed Kobe bad, and everyone knew it. As for Kobe, he was keeping most of these plans to himself, and even though his dad was in a tough spot, being an assistant coach at La Salle, he and Kobe were kind of stringing La Salle men's basketball coach Speedy Morris along. La Salle might have a chance to get Kobe. Their school might be the one that Dick Vitale was screaming and shouting about on ESPN. Their school would be in the spotlight for a change.

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

But Kobe was at the vanguard of a new generation of players, young men who knew how much power they had and knew that they could wield it. Kobe could choose any path he wanted: college, the NBA, whatever. He could do what was best for him; he just had to be bold enough to follow through on it. Kobe’s future wasn’t dependent on Speedy Morris. If anything, it was the other way around. And Speedy Morris’ future wasn’t exactly a high priority for Kobe. It got to the point that Kobe started mocking the idea that he’d choose La Salle.

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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