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Kobe Bryant

01/30/2020 04:06:01 PM

Jan30

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

If you were involved with the JCC Kaiserman in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania in the 1990s, you knew the Bryant family. They lived in a normal home on Remington Road almost across from my childhood synagogue, which was down the road from the JCC. Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant may have played for the Philadelphia 76ers, but after returning from playing in Europe, his first gig was coaching the Akiba Hebrew Academy Women’s Varsity Basketball Team.

 

For some time, Joe was my dad’s regular “work out buddy” at the JCC (their treadmills were next to each other). I remember as a thirteen year old walking into the JCC and meeting Joe: hoping to impress me, my dad introduced me to his friend who had played for the 76ers. Later, my dad explained to me later that Joe had told him that his son Kobe, from whom he was bursting with pride, was being scouted as the top high school player in the country.

 

After taking Brandy Norwood to his senior prom (our town talked about it for years), Kobe was drafted out of Lower Merion High School and made it big time. But nearly everyone slightly older than me remembers or has a story about Kobe from the JCC. Because he was leagues above the rest of us, the JCC let him play with the adults. Friends a few years older have stories about him wiping the floor with them during pick-up games. After his first season being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, Kobe he back to practice. I was too shy to ask, but my brother went up and managed to get his autograph on a napkin.

 

Somewhat appropriately, I was saddened to find out about Kobe’s tragic passing while standing on the basketball court at the Marcus JCC. Zev is now playing JCC kindergarten basketball. Upon hearing the news, the coaches and referees stopped the game had their teams stand for a moment of silence.

 

I never got to play a pickup game with Kobe. But every time I watch my kids play basketball at the JCC, I know I won’t be able to help but think of the oversized impact he had on those courts during his too few years on this earth. 

I never got to play a pickup game with Kobe. But every time I watch my kids play basketball at the JCC, I know I won’t be able to help but think of the oversized impact he had on those courts during his too few years on this earth.

Thu, February 20 2020 25 Shevat 5780