Zach Randolph and Kobe Bryant both played in the NBA’s Western Conference at the same time for more than a decade. They also shared the same jersey at two All-Star Games, and trained in the same place when Randolph was with the Clippers. Enough for a mutual respect to develop between the two men. A relationship that reached its peak when Randolph asked the former Lakers guard to welcome his daughter, MacKenly Randolph, to his team, Team Mamba.
« Who could have imagined that? » Zach Randolph.
So for a few months, Randolph had a front row seat to watch his ex-adversary coach a basketball team. The one that also included his daughter, so he had every reason to be demanding. Yet he had nothing but compliments for the Black Mamba.
« He’s one of the best. He gave it his all, he was coaching them like they were a real franchise. » Zach Randolph.
The program to improve the girls, yoga sessions, training on the beach, video work to work on the fundamentals like footwork … All while maintaining some flexibility not to overload the schedule of his players. And for Zach Randolph’s daughter, who is 6’2″ tall, this program is attractive. As a result, Randolph pulled out his phone to ask the Black Mamba if there was a spot on the team. But there was no way Bryant would give a pass, even if his team did need a pivot.
« We’ll see, bring her in and see how she fits in. » Kobe Bryant.
Predictably, the experience was very appealing to the youngster.
« It was like a puzzle piece finding its place, she was so happy, it was all she could talk about. » Zach Randolph.
And, not surprisingly, Kobe Bryant’s impact on her level of play was immediate.
« I work with her a lot, but it’s easy to see the difference with Kobe. Already, when he talks, he doesn’t have to say ‘Listen to me.' » Zach Randolph.
« Basically, he taught me how to defend, how to make the right rotations. You could tell when he was angry, where he wasn’t joking. But he never yelled. » MacKenly Randolph.
Obviously the news of the helicopter crash and the death of not only Kobe, but also teammates Gianna Bryant Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli were particularly upsetting to the Randolphs.
« Gianna was super nice. Three of my best friends were there, and then the next day they were gone. » MacKenly Randolph.
« It was hard for her, but I’m proud of her. She’s only 15, but she’s tough. Personally, when I heard the news I had tears in my eyes. I looked around and everyone on the highway I was on was crying too. It was like everyone got the news at the same time. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. He loved the girls that played for him, he loved my daughter, he told me that. » Zach Randolph.