Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant were fierce rivals on the court during their playing days, but the respect off the court was mutual.
During an interview for the one-hour special to honor the Los Angeles Lakers star, who passed away in a helicopter crash, Wade shared a story of a time when he was a young player and how he wanted to earn the respect of the fiercely competitive Bryant.
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“2008 came and I got a chance to play in the Olympics,” said Wade. “And I remember the first day that I really had a real conversation was Kobe. It was the day before the first Olympic practice. It was 6:30 in the morning, my trainer Tim Grover gets me up and says, ‘Hey, we gotta go get our work in before we get there, before you guys get to practice.’
“I go to the weight room and there’s only one other person in the weight room and it’s Kobe Bryant. Kobe’s on the opposite end. I’m on the opposite end and we’re not really saying much to each other. We’re just getting our work in.
“Towards the end of the workout, it was a drill that Tim made us do that you had to get in a push-up position and hold yourself and see how long you can hold yourself. He pinned me and Kobe right next to each other to see who can hold each other the longest. His competitive drive, my competitive drive, it was the longest I’ve ever held myself up.
“After we got done doing three sets of that Kobe stood up and said, ‘You’re just like me. Tim why didn’t you tell me this? He’s just like me.’ From that moment on, I’ve had his respect.
“For me, as a young kid, coming into this league it was one person that I wanted that respect from, one person who I wanted to look at me as his equal, and look at me eye to eye, and it was Kobe Bryant.”
Wade was grief-stricken when he heard the news of Bryant’s death, sharing his heart to the rest of the world on social media soon after.
Bryant and his daughter Gianna were on their way to the Los Angeles Lakers star’s youth basketball academy when tragedy struck on Sunday. A helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif. took the lives of nine people, including that of the pilot.