How Tyrese Haliburton, a LeBron fan, changed tune on Kobe originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Born and raised in Oshkosh, Wisc., Haliburton staunchly was in the corner of the former Cleveland Cavaliers star and Akron, Ohio native.
But being a LeBron guy meant Haliburton had to despise Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant.
“For me, it was LeBron my whole life,” Haliburton told Deuce Mason and Morgan Ragan on the “Deuce and Mo” podcast Monday. “All the jerseys. I had the Fathead, the big poster thing of the big signature tomahawk dunk. I had everything. What’s crazy to think about is, because of the LeBron-Kobe debate, as a kid I was anti-Kobe. Like, I knew how good he was, but he was obviously the main threat to LeBron. My mom used to always make Nike runs and go to the store and bring home Kobe stuff, like t-shirts, shorts. I’m like ‘Mom, I don’t want it. Don’t even give it to me.’ I started to wear his shoes as I got older, but clothes, I couldn’t wear them.”
The good news for Haliburton is that as he grew as a hooper himself, he began to appreciate the greatness of the late Bryant, who tragically died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. on Jan. 26, 2020 with his young daughter Gianna and seven others.
“Then as I got older, I started to appreciate [Bryant] more,” Haliburton said. “Now he’s gone, but I’ve learned to appreciate him more as I’ve gotten older. I truly believe he’s the best player to ever touch a basketball, most talented, I think so. But as a young kid, I never would have said that.”
As for Haliburton and LeBron, the rookie missed the first matchup between the Kings and Lakers on March 3, while James missed the second meeting on April 2. Finally on April 30, the two got to face each other. Surprisingly, Haliburton had no nerves or butterflies during Sacramento’s 110-106 win over Los Angeles at Staples Center.
“Nah, I’m not even going to lie to you,” Haliburton told Mason and Ragan. “There was none, really. It was at the end of the year, so by that time, [De’Aaron] Fox was out, we were working for the playoffs, we’re in LA. That was just ‘I’m ready to go.’ LA had beaten us at home pretty bad the game before so I was super locked in going into that game and I knew I was going to have to handle a bigger load offensively and defensively. And then being guarded by Dennis [Schroder], who is going to pick me up full court and other things, I was just so locked in that day that I wasn’t even thinking anything like that.
“But it was a cool moment to be on the same floor as him. My mom called me after the game and was like ‘I thought you were going to be so nervous.’ ‘Nah mom, it’s the end of the year, I’ve played against almost everybody now, so it’s not like that anymore.’ “
Haliburton and LeBron will see each other for the first time during the 2021-22 NBA season on Friday, Nov. 26 at Staples Center with Kobe’s retired No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys hanging in the rafters, looking down on them.
Source: Yahoo Sports