Tucker Haymond is a 25 year old 198cm guard from Seattle, Washington that is playing his third professional season and first with FC Schalke where he produced 13 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in his debut in a loss against Tuebingen. He began the season with AEL Limassol (Cyprus-OPAP Basket League) playing 3 games averaging 13.7ppg, 4.0rpg, 3.0apg, 2.0spg. Last season he played with the Rhein Stars Koeln (Germany-ProB) averaging 22,5ppg,6,0rpg and 2,3apg. He played his rookie year with the Austin Spurs (NBA G-League) playing 33 games averaging 2.6ppg. He began his basketball career at Garfield High School and then played at Western Michigan (NCAA) from 2013-2017 playing a total of 123 games and as a senior played 31 games averaging 14.8ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 75.6%. He spoke to germanhoops about his memories of Kobe Bryant
Where were you and how did you find about the death of Kobe Bryant?
I was at the Chinese buffet with my teammates. We were all sitting around eating and a notification popped up for a new tweet. Saying that Kobe had passed away.
When I heard about it, I thought it was a hoax. What were your first thoughts when you heard about it?
At first, I thought it wasn’t true. Because I have seen hoaxes before for well known people and their deaths. But then the more I read online and more news came out. It was confirmed and that’s when it really started to sink in. First initial thoughts were just sadness and feeling for the families involved.
How much of your day the day after did you take informing yourself about his death and watching videos?
I spent the rest of the night just watching videos on reports from ESPN. Then just started watching old videos and reminiscing on my memories about Kobe. Thinking of all the things I used to do just because he did it.
You were born in 1994. Can you remember about when you first knew about Kobe Bryant and what was your first impression of him as a kid?
I remember when I was younger hearing about Kobe because my dad used to talk about Shaq. After I started watching basketball more and more Kobe was the main person I would watch. He was the face of the league obviously. Once all the Kobes started coming out for Nike, I started wearing all his shoes. Watching all his games. My mom used to read Kobe books to me at night before bed. I remember as a young kid watching Kobe on Christmas and seeing what his Christmas version of his shoes would be would be what I would be excited to see.
How did your love for Kobe Bryant develop over time as you got through childhood and high school? He had his biggest success when you were very young winning titles with Shaq as the millennium came.
I used to admire Kobe just for his killer instinct. Also because he had a lot of haters. More than a lot of superstars. And he kept killing even with all the people hating on him. His confidence made me draw towards his demeanor and just presence. He has one of the most legendary mindsets in the history of the game. His imprint on the league is huge and will forever have an imprint on the league, and basketball worldwide.
Kobe Bryant was for so many the greatest ever. What did you appreciate most about his game? Was he a guy that you pretended to be on the playgrounds?
I think the most I appreciated about his game was his mindset and killer instinct. He never was afraid of the big moment. His confidence is what I appreciated most about him. And yes pretending to be Kobe I think me and a lot of people did. Counting down to the buzzer and yelling Kobe.
Kobe Bryant had so many amazing games like his 81 points and countless other games where it was lights out as well as winning 5 titles. What is your fondest memory of him of what he did on the court?
Scoring 81 points I think is my favorite. I have the 81 point poster that I have by my bed back home. I used to go to sleep all through middle and high school with the Kobe poster right next to my bed. It’s still hard to fathom that someone who I used to look up to and still do is gone in such a tragedy.
The outpouring of sadness was incredible in the last 24 hours. Guys were crying and leaving heart felt messages on Social Media. How long do you think it will take until the basketball world comes to terms with this tragedy?
I think that it will take a while before the basketball world comes to terms with this. I think it will linger for a few years to be honest. He had such a big impact not only on NBA basketball. But also WNBA and women’s basketball with his daughter. His reach was far and wide.
When you look back in 20 years on the career of Kobe Bryant how will you remember his legacy best?
I think remembering his legacy was about his will to win, his focus, mentality, as well as his toughness. Him tearing his Achilles and walking up to the free throw line and knocking down the free throws. Nobody has done something like that. A lot of things he did were just legendary and will stick around the game forever.
One of my last questions in my standard interviews is what is your opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James. Often players remind me that I left out Kobe Bryant.I have been thinking about this a lot in the last weeks. How worthy is a Kobe Bryant to be seen as the greatest of all-time?
I for sure think Kobe is one of the greatest. I think regardless of position he is top 5 for sure. Because he was able to win playing with a dominant player beside him. And he was also able to win as him being the dominant player with a supporting cast. He also stayed in LA for his whole career. Didn’t chase a ring, stayed and did what he could.
My last question is usually what is the last movie you saw, but in this interview it is a bit different. What video of Kobe Bryant will you take a look again when you have some time to look back at his great career?
I have just been watching Kobe interviews. Listening more to the things he says and how he thinks about things on and off the court. Paying more attention to the mental side of things.
Thanks Tucker for sharing your memories of Kobe Bryant.