Late night hosts took time on Monday night to remember basketball icon Kobe Bryant.
Days after Kobe Bryant’s passing, tributes, celebrations, and remembrances continue to come out about the legendary athlete. Monday night gave late night hosts the chance to reflect on their interactions with Bryant and his cultural impact.
Yesterday Last Night On offered a look back at some of Bryant’s best moments from Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and more. The clips provided a look at who Bryant was off the court and especially during his brief retirement.
Bryant’s personality, sense of humor, honesty, and passion were all evident no matter what he was talking about or which show he was visiting. As you’ll see, it’s clear that he made a significant impact on the late night hosts during those interviews.
Over his 20 year basketball career and then retirement, Bryant appeared on a number of late night shows. He was interviewed by everyone from Jay Leno to James Corden, a sign of his longevity as a basketball player and his popularity as an icon. Here is how several of those late night hosts chose to honor Kobe.
Conan O’Brien interviewed Kobe Bryant both on The Tonight Show and Conan. O’Brien focused his tribute on Bryant’s importance to people in Los Angeles and especially those basketball fans who grew up watching Bryant play. As the bridge between Michael Jordan and LeBron James, Bryant is responsible for millions of people becoming basketball fans or players not just in Los Angeles but throughout the world.
O’Brien also wanted to highlight Bryant’s sense of humor and what made him a quality late night guest. The clips Conan put together showcase that, offering a glimpse at the witty, laid back Bryant that contrasted so much with the fierce on-court competitor.
James Corden provided his own unique perspective on Kobe Bryant during The Late Late Show. Corden provided context for Bryan’t global appeal by explaining how despite basketball’s unpopularity in Great Britain, everyone knew Kobe. Bryant was an athlete that transcended sports, was much more than just a basketball player, and was well on the way to creating an impressive second act in retirement.
Corden also recalls how excited Bryant sounded in discussing his retirement. His appearance on The Late Late Show included a memorable edition of “Spill Your Guts” but what Corden remembers the most is Bryant’s eagerness to be a dad and spend more time with his family.
Jimmy Fallon fought back tears on The Tonight Show as he mourned the loss of Kobe Bryant. He shared a story from 1996 when he first met Bryant. The two of them were both just starting out in their careers–careers that would allow them to cross paths again and again as both rose to the top of their professions.
That chance interaction in 1996 gave Fallon a special connection with Bryant that he would not have had through just interviewing him on late night television. The loss had a profound affect on Fallon but his message of carrying on Bryant’s work ethic and dedication to family provides much need consolation.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! had hosted Kobe Bryant as a guest on several occasions. It was the perfect late night show for Bryant. It is in Los Angeles where he always got the warmest reception. It has a laid back atmosphere that matches Bryant’s off-court personality. And in Jimmy Kimmel, it has a host who is an informed and passionate sports fan.
So it was fitting that the entirety of Monday night’s episode was dedicated to Bryant. Kimmel opened the show by comparing Bryant to a superhero, echoing many others who referred to the man known simply as Kobe as being larger than life.
The rest of the show featured clips from the various interviews and appearances Bryant made on Jimmy Kimmel Live! over the years. We see him with his Laker teammates after winning the championship, discussing his Oscar win, and sharing the happiness that came from being a father.
Kimmel shares a couple off-camera anecdotes that are worth hearing. Bryant wanting to know everything about the book Kimmel sent him is a perfect example of the mentality with which Bryant approached everything. Hearing that Bryant would check in with Kimmel about the health of his son Billy is a perfect example of how important family was to Bryant.
These tributes from Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon and others help highlight the impact of Kobe Bryant on people from all walks of life. To get the full picture on Bryant, it is beneficial to hear not just from basketball fans or players but those who got to spend time with him outside of the game and see who he was as a person.