Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has inspired millions across the globe. Since his passing, many basketball players have shared their first meeting with him, and how they learned from him. Rutgers Scarlet Knights star Ron Harper Jr recently shared his story as well.
Harper said that the first time he met Kobe was at the MSG when he was just seven or eight years old. His father, former NBA champion, and Kobe’s teammate, Ron Harper, was speaking to the Lakers star while Harper Jr was hiding nervously behind his father.
“I was so nervous,” Harper said. “I was a little kid, and it was Kobe Bryant, he’s the Michael Jordan of my era, one of the greatest to ever do it. He was like, ‘Junior, come here. Don’t be afraid. We’re family.’”
“I’ll just never forget that moment,” Harper said.
Ron Harper Jr shares the most typical but iconic Kobe Bryant story
During his playing days, Kobe was often called selfish or a ball hog because of his reluctance to pass. And he was trying to teach this mentality to Harper early. “I remember one thing he told me,” the Rutgers star said. “He was like, ‘No matter what, whenever you touch the basketball, I want you to shoot it, and we’ll teach you how to pass later.’”
Then around 10 years later, Harper met Kobe at the Nike academy where he was training. The Lakers legend asked Harper if he remembered what he had told him years ago. He continued, “At the moment, I had no idea what he was talking about and he was like, ‘I told you. Always shoot the ball. We’ll teach you how to pass later.’”
“It was just a fun moment. It was so Kobe,” he said.
Harper was close to Kobe and also idolized him. He has based his game around him and occasionally pulls out the Kobe fadeaway as well. Currently averaging 17.5 points per game, he is Rutgers’ leading scorer and has been at the fore of their offense.
The Scarlet Knights haven’t made it to the NCAA tournament since 1991, but Harper Jr is on a mission to change that. They are on course to achieve this feat and will owe a lot of their success to Harper.