Kobe takes in Freeway Series finale
Lakers star attends game with dad on Father's Day
ANAHEIM -- Basking in the sunshine -- and the afterglow of his fourth NBA championship -- on Sunday was Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who took in the Freeway Series finale in a front row behind the visitors' dugout at Angel Stadium.
Attending the game alongside Kobe, on Father's Day, was his dad, Joe Bryant. Known as "Jellybean," Joe Bryant played in the NBA and in Europe.
Bryant, the MVP of the Finals, was the driving force behind the Lakers' first title since their three-peat in the first three seasons of the decade. He lives in Newport Beach, Calif., not far from Angels center fielder Torii Hunter.
Hunter made reference to Bryant after his first career three-homer game on June 13.
"It's like you're in a zone," Hunter said following the Angels' 9-1 romp at the Padres' expense at Angel Stadium. "When you're in a zone, a lot of good things happen.
"I felt like Kobe -- in a zone hitting everything. It felt good, man."
Across the home clubhouse from Hunter, a Bryant jersey has been hanging in the locker space of die-hard Lakers fan Jered Weaver since the day before the Lakers clinched the title in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Orlando against the Magic.
"Kobe's the man," said Weaver, an excellent basketball player at Simi Valley High School before focusing on baseball at Long Beach State. "He does things that defy belief on the court.
"What an amazing season that guy had -- an amazing career, really. I'm really glad he showed all those ridiculous critics that he didn't need Shaq [O'Neal] to win a title."
Nothing should be read into Bryant preferring the Dodgers by virtue of where he was sitting. He was given VIP hold seats on the first-base side, a club official said, because none were available on the home side near the Angels' dugout.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Bryant's beaming image was shown on the scoreboard. He clapped his hands and raised his arms to the cheering crowd amid chants of "MVP! MVP!"
Angels infielder Sean Rodriguez, with a start at second base, was thrilled by the opportunity to perform in front of Bryant. Rodriguez been a Lakers fan since his childhood in Miami.
"I grew up with the Lakers because my dad was such a huge Lakers fan in the glory days in the '80s," Rodriguez said. "Kobe, to me, is as great as anybody who's ever played. People seem to forget that Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen with him all those years. Kobe didn't need Shaq to win another championship; he needed some good players to step up, like Pau Gasol and Trevor Ariza, and they did.
"It's really awesome form an athletic point of view, the things Kobe is able to do with his body. His endurance, too, is incredible. Who's in better shape than he is? He's a phenomenal player and leader. I don't think anybody can doubt his greatness now."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.