Eric Kibi is a 28 year old 198cm forward from Ontario, Canada that is playing his eighth professional season. He began the season with Libertad Sunchales (Argentina-La Liga) averaging 3.6ppg, 3.0rpg an now is playing with BHY Tiro Federal y Deportivo Morteros (Argentina-La Liga). Last season he played with Golbey Epinal Thaon Vosges (France-NM1) where he played 5 games averaging 6.8ppg, 6.0rpg, 2.4apg, 1.4spg, 2FGP: 29.2%, 3FGP: 27.3%, FT: 73.3%, in Dec.’18 moved to MBK Handlova (Slovakia-SBL) playing 3 games and then in January 2019 signed at Al Mina (Iraq-IBL) where he averaged 22,0ppg, 15rpg and 2,0apg. Two seasons ago he played with C.B. Torrons Vicens L’Hospitalet (Spain-LEB Silver) where he played 33 games averaging 4.5ppg, 3.2rpg In 2016-2017 he played with Randers Cimbria Basketball (Denmark-Ligaen) playing 31 games averaging 10.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 27.8%, FT: 70.2%. In 2015-2016 he played in Germany with the Hertener Loewen Basketball (Germany-ProB) playing 3 games averaging 4.7ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.3apg, 1.3spg, left in Oct.’15, in Jan.’16 moved to KK Strsljen Gusinje (Montenegro-Erste Liga) playing 4 games averaging 3.8ppg, 5.5rpg, in Mar.’16 signed at London Lightning (Canada-NBL Canada) playing 23 games averaging 1.7ppg, 2.5rpg. He also played with Basketball Club Rendsburg (Germany-Regionalliga), Ottawa SkyHawks (NBLKibi Canada) and BG Halstenbek/Pinneberg (Germany-Regionalliga). He started his basketball career in 2008 with Jacksonville College (NJCAA) where he played until 2010. He then played a season with UALR (NCAA) playing 29 games: 4.4ppg, 4.2rpg. He finished his college career in 2012 with Abil.Christian (NCAA2) playing 20 games: 8.2ppg, 5.7rpg, FGP: 60.0%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his memories of Kobe Bryant.
Where were you and how did you find about the death of Kobe Bryant?
I’m currently in Argentina, So I was just at home at the apartment when all the news about this tragedy started flowing in on social media.
When I heard about it, I thought it was a hoax. What were your first thoughts when you heard about it?
Honestly I thought the exact same thing, Until it was finally confirmed then I was in shock just like everyone else. Very painful news to receive on a Sunday morning.
How much of your day the day after did you take informing yourself about his death and watching videos?
I spent a lot of the day looking all over the internet to see as many videos as possible on YouTube and on all the sports network to inform myself. The most difficult thing was having to play a basketball game that same evening. It was crazy because my team was on a losing streak and the team we were facing had beat us by 30 a few days before and we ended up breaking a lengthy losing streak. Feel like he had something to do with that.
You were born in 1990. You were 6 when he began with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996. Can you remember about when you first knew about Kobe Bryant and what was your first impression of him as a kid?
The first time I really took interest in Kobe was when he went through the legs in the dunk contest in 1997. He had so much flair and confidence that you immediately compared him to MJ.
How did your love for Kobe Bryant develop over time as you got through childhood and high school? How do you remember following his career?. You were 10 when he won his first titles and 20 when he won again in 2010?
When Kobe started out winning titles with Shaq we were all huge fans. I remember staying up late in the 7th grade to watch the Lakers play because I was on east coast time in Ottawa, Canada and Los Angeles is obviously on the west coast. We all started growing that mini Afro just like Kobe. Then once I got older, Lebron became my favorite player but Kobe’s mentality and relentless we all idolized. He really brought the best out of Lebron and his titles in 2010 with Gasol and Artest were very impressive because it feels like he re-invented his game after a few injuries.
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?
We all imagined being Kobe on the playground, Me what I appreciated the most was his mentality and his confidence. If you remember at 19 or 20 he shot 3 straight air balls in a clutch moment in a huge playoff game against Utah but he had the confidence. Then in 2002 in the NBA finals against Indiana he was 21 and Shaq was in foul trouble in game 5 and they needed a boost and Kobe was fearless. So for me definitely his confidence I appreciated the most.
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 was your fondest memory of him of what he did on the court?
For me for sure it was the 81 point game it was so surreal because we always hear about Wilt Chamberlains 100 point game but obviously it wasn’t in our generation and we never believed anyone would get anywhere near that. On top of that it was against my favorite team The Toronto Raptors.
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?
Man this is a really tough one, I cried just like everyone else, this is a tough one to swallow because we all felt he was so invincible. I had just watched a podcast he did with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson a few days before his death and it really felt like he was just heading towards greatness in his after basketball life so it hurts to see that cut short and it will hurt for a long time.
When you look back in 20 years on the career of Kobe Bryant how will you remember his legacy best?
For me he is a top 5 player of all time. I have always been a Lebron guy but I always admired Kobe and wished Lebron had Kobe’s mentality. So I think he will go down as one of the most complete and fearless players of all time. He influenced a whole generation, For me it was a must to go get a Kobe tattoo because that’s how much he influenced this generation.
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. How worthy is a Kobe Bryant to be seen as the greatest of all-time?
He is very worth in my opinion, But I still think Michael is untouchable. Kobe for me is top 5 of all time with Lebron in there as well. His resume is impeccable.
My last question isn’t what is the last movie you saw, but what video of Kobe Bryant will you take a look again when you have some time to look back at his great career?
Like I said the podcast he did with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson a few days before is death was amazing. But also I took pleasure in watching a lot of his after basketball interviews because he really seemed on the verge of becoming great as well off the court. It’s also been nice to watch what all the athletes and non athletes tell stories about Kobe about how he impacted their lives. The ripple effect that his death has had world wide really shows you how much of a global icon he was. RIP Kobe and Gigi as well as the 7 others who lost their lives. Mamba mentality will live forever.
Thanks Eric for sharing your memories of Kobe Bryant