2 years before his untimely death, Kobe Bryant confirmed to Jimmy Kimmel that he only went to Staples Center on his chopper.
The Black Mamba was the king of Los Angeles during his days on this planet. In most of LA residents’ hearts, he’s still their king, only just departed. Kobe meant more to the city than any other LA athlete, including the Magic Johnson.
We normally think of Los Angeles as a haven for celebrities. After all, the glitz and glamour of all the movie stars living in Hollywood should provide slightly more cover than in other cities. But that wasn’t the case for Kobe at all.
Practically everyone who lived in the city knew Kobe, and he’d be mobbed by fans wherever he went. It got to a point where he was approached by people with unhealthy levels of obsession with the Black Mamba.
Given all of these concerns and his extreme level of celebrity, Kobe had to take measures to safeguard himself. Among these measures included his policy never to go to Staples Center by car – he’d always use his chopper.
When Kobe Bryant discussed his regular usage of his helicopter on Jimmy Kimmel Live
The Black Mamba was often a guest of Jimmy Kimmel on his ABC show through the course of his career. One of his appearances came in early 2018, after his retirement but before the Lakers landed LeBron James.
Kimmel asked him if he’d learnt how to navigate the chopper and take over as the pilot. Bryant replied that he didn’t even drive himself any more:
“Dude, no. I don’t even trust myself behind the wheels of a car, let alone a helicopter. That’s as Hollywood as I get, though. I’m not coming to Los Angeles if I don’t have the Mamba chopper. 405 (the freeway) and me don’t get along.”
Kimmel ventured to jokingly ask if he even dropped his daughters to school on his helicopter, which Bryant took well and laughingly denied doing so, though he revealed that he did drop them to school every morning.
As a Kobe Bryant fan growing up, I keep looking back at this interview, trying to make sense of how it happened. Probably nobody flew around California in a helicopter more than Kobe – not even the governor.