The Other Bryant

 —  January 21, 2005

Sometimes I think we forget that Kobe is a second-generation NBA player, his father a 76er back in the 70s who went on to play eight years in Italy. Basketball-reference says similar players to him now are Hedo Turkoglu or Detlef Schrempf.

Jellybean is still on the court today, coaching the Boston Fury of the ABA (one of the minor leagues floating around out there). At age 50, he even played a few games for his team and averaged almost 20 points and 5 rebounds per contest.

There’s a nice story in today’s Providence Journal about him.

I hope his team sticks it out. For those who haven’t followed the ABA — and my guess is that’s most of you (I have just by reading the papers in Long Beach) — here’s a brief run down: The league was resurrected a few years back, complete with the red, white and blue basketballs and some rules designed to generate high-paced, high scoring games. Last season, the Long Beach Jam won the title but — in a sign of the financial struggles of the league — it almost didn’t come back for this season.

In a business decision rivaling New Coke, the ABA’s owners decided heading into this season the best way to deal with financial uncertainty in the league would be rapid expansion. The ABA grew from eight teams last season to 37 this season, including one at the Forum in Inglewood and one in Orange County that never had a home. The whole thing went about as well as you can imagine — already a number of teams have folded, including Orange County. Team owners have serious regrets. The league, at least in this form and likely in any, will not be back next year.

Somehow, I still think Jellybean will land on his feet somewhere. And will land on a basketball court.