Renowned sportscaster Jim Gray recently shared candid insights on his experiences with basketball legends Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan in an interview with Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson.
Gray, reflecting on his time with the NBA on NBC, fondly recalled the era of the Chicago Bulls’ dominance, stating, “[…] To view that and to see that dynasty, to be part of that spectacle that the Bulls put on with Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan and all the great players — Dennis Rodman… it was EXCELLENCE, you know?”
In the interview, Gray painted a vivid picture of the vibrant NBA landscape during his tenure at NBC. He highlighted the emergence of dynamic duos like Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, the “Jordan Years,” the electrifying era of Vinsanity, the brilliance of Tim Duncan, and the excellence embodied by Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley.
When questioned about building rapport with Kobe Bryant compared to Michael Jordan, Gray revealed a unique connection with Kobe dating back to the basketball prodigy’s infancy. Having known Kobe since he was a month old and maintained a friendly relationship with the Bryant family, Gray emphasized the joy of witnessing Kobe’s remarkable career unfold.
“Well, I had known Kobe since he was a month old because I spent time in Philadelphia and was one of the people that was on the broadcast team for the 76ers and had been there part of the San Diego Clippers and when they were there and so I got to know Pam and Joe Bryant; so I got to see Kobe at a very, very young age and got to follow his career — obviously I left Philadelphia, but saw what he did at Lower Merion… but, just a being a friend of the family and so when he [Kobe] came out to Los Angeles, he was living in Los Angeles and so a familiar face to the Bryant family was very fortuitous and very lucky for me to have been able in that position and so having a relationship with Kobe was one of the great joys of my life and to see him play,” he siad. “And covering Michael [Jordan], and being able to talk to him and interview him and being on those broadcasts all those years was fantastic too, so it’s pretty hard to compare.”
Gray, reflecting on Kobe’s early years, acknowledged that while he always believed in Kobe’s dedication to excellence, the staggering heights of championships, points, and impact were unpredictable. “[…] I wouldn’t stand here and tell you that I foresaw all that, but we all had a feeling that this kid had a chance to be really special and really great, and he turned out to be THAT man. Yes, he was! [smiling]”