TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Del Harris said he was like a lot of people Sunday when the news broke of Kobe Bryant’s death — he didn’t want to believe it. But when he realized the NBA star is really gone, he started looking back on all the good times they had together.
“I’ve known Kobe since he was 4 years old. His dad played for me on the Houston Rockets in 82, 83… and then I was Kobe’s first coach,” Harris said.
When Harris heard the news, he said memories came rushing back.
“He was highly intelligent, you know, multilingual,” he said. “He was so dedicated. He would have lived in that gym.”
From Bryant’s highest scoring game against the Raptors to his last game, Harris remembers it all.
“All the players that have come after him have learned about his work ethic and what it takes to be the best individual you can be,” Harris said.
Cameron Payne of Texas Legends recalls feeling star struck the first time he met the basketball legend while playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Growing up that’s who I looked up to,” Payne said. “I had a nice little talk with him leaving the arena — we played the Lakers in Oklahoma City. Met him at the bus. We got a picture… and I got to tell him, ’You’re my favorite player.’ He told me, ‘Keep working.'”
It’s a moment he said he’ll cherish forever.
“When you look down the line at all he’s done… it’s crazy to see a good guy go so fast. So soon. It’s unbelievable. A huge tragedy,” he said.
Harris said Bryant’s legacy will always be his work ethic and that all of his accomplishments came because he was willing to put in the work.