Joe Asberry is an American ex professional basketball player that really has seen it all from crime to drugs, but also playing against legends like Gary Payton, Jason Kidd and Brian Shaw being teammates with German legendary player Christian Welp and had a 11 year professional career that saw him toil around in the minor leagues of Germany, but he belonged to the best in his day at that level. Since retiring from the game, he has been a spokes person for young kids and drug prevention, guest speaker, worked in the Alba Berlin organization, been a master of ceremonies for UBC Hannover and been a mentor for young Americans coming overseas trying to live the dream of being a professional basketball player.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 was in the gym pumping iron when one of the moms from my u18 team sent me a message and told me 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?
My first thought was well,we lost another balla to the grim reaper. My best friend died not to long ago,Marzel Price,so I thought they’re playing horse together in Hoop heaven. And I know Zell was talking trash and saying,”Let’s play 1 on 1 Kobe
How much of your day the day after did you take informing yourself about his death and watching videos?
The only video I watched was the one from the news where the eye witness discussed hearing the Copter crash
Can you remember about when you first knew about Kobe Bryant and what was your first impression of him as a kid?
I had heard all about Kobe when he was in high school,and watched him play in the Mcdonalds All American Game and I thought he was maybe a bit over hyped. Steven Jackson was the MVP of that game I thought. But I would later meet Kobe when he was a rookie. He was a judge at a dunk contest I was in. I took 2nd place. That high flyer Mike Hairston beat me. I missed a dunk and he didn’t miss any. We both talked to Kobe and he was a humble down to earth dude. I liked him. He told both of us we had NBA type of bounce so that compliment from a stud like him I’ll take to my grave when the grim reaper comes for me. I ‘ll beat his ass in horse too in hoop heaven. I don’t want any parts of him 1 on 1,I’ll let Zell handle that for me LOL!
How did your love for Kobe Bryant develop over time as were winding down your professional career in Europe. How do you remember following his career
My love for Kobe flew over the top in the 1998 All Star game. Most players at that time were TOO afraid of Michael Jordan. I couldn’t understand how pro athlete’s had become male groupy’s.That’s why I loved Kobe. He went right at the basketball God and tried to snatch up the King’s Throne
Kobe Bryant was for so many the greatest ever. What did you appreciate most about his game?
I appreciated the most about Kobe’s game was his dunks in traffic. I am older then Kobe so on the playgrounds I wanted to be Michael Asberry,Dominique Wilkens,and Magic Johnson.
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?
My fondest memory was the game when he dropped 81. It was like me playing 2k with him on Rookie, but this was real life in the best league in the WORLD! I’ve lost many loved ones to gun violence, so for me death has become normal. I’m not sad from it anymore, but I just celebrate the joys of life I’ve had with people. The basketball world will never get over this. What hurt me to be honest was the fact that his daughter died as well .I can’t rap my head around that. I’ve met cold blooded gangsters who are still here and that beautiful little girl is gone. So I’ve had a hard time dealing with that, it has tested my faith. So I just visualize her shooting 3’s in hoop heaven and my guy Zell rebounding for her and telling her how pretty she is and how much of a beautiful woman she is going be when she grows up hooping in her high heels! RIP to all of the people who lost their lives in that Copter that day too. Let’s not forget that not only the great balla passed, so did other good people including Gigi’s little team mate, Just too sad Miles.
When you look back in 20 years on the career of Kobe Bryant how will you remember his legacy best?
I will remember his legacy best with what I loved the most about him that MAMBA Mentality. That cocky arrogant 18 year old who told EVERYBODY I can give ANYBODY in the world buckets. I love that. I didn’t have his skill set, but in my time I thought I could dunk on any man alive. If I got that bunny hop,your ass was DONE!
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?
I still think that Michael Jordan is the best player of all time. He made it global. Without Michael Jordan,”Jumping” Joe Asberry doesn’t get paid to hoop overseas. As the clock ticks, Lebron James will be the best player of all time, because he loves to pass and is a better overall player then Jordan and Kobe. The best scorer of all time and killer is hands down Kobe Bryant. The man dropped 60 in his last game and had plenty left in the tank. All my opinion though LOL!
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?
The video of that last game when he played vs Jordan when Jordan played for the Wizards. At that moment Mike knew it was time to pass the torch. Kobe scorched him and everybody else that got in his way! Thank you so much for the interview Miles. I appreciate you my guy,you’re the “Marv Albert” and best to do hoops here in Germany You’re in my ghetto Hall of Fame! LOL!
Thanks Joe for sharing your memories of Kobe Bryant.