Mike Holton JR is a 28 year old 185cm guard from Portland, Oregon that completed fourth professional season and first in France with Lille Metropole Basket (France-ProB) averaging 15,1ppg, 3,2rpg and 2,2apg. Last season he played with BC Zaporizhye-ZOG (Ukraine-Superleague) playing 38 games averaging 17.1ppg, 3.5rpg, 4.4apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 35.4%, FT: 85.2%. In 2017-2018 he played in Germany with RSV Eintracht Stahnsdorf (Germany-ProB) averaging 18.7ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 51.1%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 80.0% As a rookie he played with ECE Bulls Kapfenberg (Austria-A Bundesliga) playing 38 games averaging 8.4ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 42.3%, 3PT: 34.1%, FT: 75.7%; He also played 6 FIBA Europe Cup games averaging 10.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 46.4%, 3PT: 27.6%, FT: 87.5%. He started his basketball career in 2010 at St.Michael’s (NCAA2) and as a senior played 17 games averaging 14.9ppg, 4,5rpg, 3,8apg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 79.6%. 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?
When I got the news about Kobe it was later in the night and I was in my apartment here in France on the couch watching a movie. I was getting a lot of messages on my phone from a group of friends from America.
When I heard about it, I thought it was a hoax. What were your first thoughts when you heard about it?
The first thing I was seeing was my friends saying things like ‘Kobe’ ‘No way’ ‘I can’t believe this’ So then I googled Kobe Bryant to see if there was any news and the first thing I saw there was a TMZ article about the crash. I instantly thought it was fake news and a really bad joke. I definitely did not believe it was real. My mind wouldn’t allow me to think it was real.
How much of your day the day after did you take informing yourself about his death and watching videos?
It took me a long time to accept that his passing was a real thing. I looked all over the internet and social media, and as I saw more and more news and media outlets coming forth with stories, it began to set in. Even still, it took a couple days for it to feel real. I cried days after hearing it for the first time.
Can you remember about when you first knew about Kobe Bryant and what was your first impression of him as a kid?
I spent a portion of my childhood growing up in Los Angeles, and I was in elementary school there when the Lakers got the first trophy of their 3 peat in 2000. My first basketball team I played for was at the Inglewood YMCA, down the street from the Great Western Forum, and we were called the Junior Lakers. My awareness and admiration for Kobe started when I was on my first basketball team at 7 years old and Kobe had the afro.
How did your love for Kobe Bryant develop over time as you were growing up as a kid?
My love for Kobe developed more and more as I developed within my own game. Between the time I played on my first team at age 7 and receiving my scholarship to play college basketball at 19, I witnessed Kobe win 5 titles. He was the epitome of hard work and perseverance, and I was able to draw a lot from him as I was striving to become better and better myself.
How do you remember following his career 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 vividly remember yelling out ‘Kobe!’ while taking a shot, whether it was outside on the playground, inside the gym, or shooting a piece of balled up paper into a trash can. What I appreciated most about his game was his relentless to win, and how when he set his mind on achieving something, he wasn’t going to let anything stop him.
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?
In addition to winning all the titles, and the mamba mentality, I remember watching his 81 point game live on TV. I came home after practice one day and turned the TV on to the Lakers playing the Raptors. I was still standing there with my backpack on when Kobe got a deflection for a fast break and dunked it and the announcer exclaimed ‘that’s 51 points for Kobe Bryant’. I sat down immediately and watched him score the rest. It was an amazing thing to see. I knew I was witnessing history in that moment.
The outpouring of sadness was incredible. 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?
We live in a world where a lot things come and go quickly in the media, and there seems to be short attention spans at times. But I think that this loss really cut deep for a lot of people around the world and it is something that will continue to be difficult to accept for a long time to come.
When you look back in 20 years on the career of Kobe Bryant how will you remember his legacy best?
That he was a relentless competitor who was in love with the process of continually improving.
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 definitely worthy of being in that conversation. Maybe the numbers don’t always add up or compare evenly from player to player, but he had one of the greatest competitive edges, amazing stats and individual accomplishments, and has the titles to back it up as well.
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?
His Dear Basketball short film that he won the Oscar for is the perfect summation of what the game of basketball meant for him, and it gave a glimpse to what he had in store for continuing to give back to the game and inspire generations to come.
Thanks Mike for sharing your memories of Kobe Bryant.