Phil Jackson’s proudest Kobe Bryant moment: Him defending Adam Morrison on ‘Jimmy Kimmel’

Phil Jackson coached Kobe Bryant to five NBA titles.

The former Lakers coach was witness to the multitude of on-court moments that made Bryant a beloved Los Angeles icon.

Jackson spoke for 11 minutes Thursday at the unveiling of a statue honoring the late basketball legend outside Arena, concluding with a story about “when I was the proudest of Kobe.”

It had nothing to do with Bryant’s on-court heroics.

Jackson talked about the time Bryant and several Lakers players appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” following their seven-game 2010 NBA Finals win over the Boston Celtics.

Read more: Complete coverage: Kobe Bryant’s statue unveiling

On the show, Kimmel showed a clip featuring all of the NBA Finals highlights of then-Laker Adam Morrison — the joke being that the former Gonzaga star was inactive and in street clothes the entire series. The bit got plenty of laughs from the players and the audience. After it ended, Bryant spoke up immediately in defense of Morrison, a Type 1 diabetic who was not present.

“First of all, let me just say that was funny as hell,” Bryant said. “But secondly, let me just say that, you know, that’s a testament to our team, honestly, because Adam can really play. Like, he can really, really go. And for him to take a step back and to do things like that really helped us get to that championship level.”

Bryant’s comments were met with loud applause. They also made quite an impression on his coach, who brought them up nearly 14 years later.

“Kobe said, ‘Don’t make fun of Adam Morrison. He’s one of our teammates. He puts in the work. He may not get to dress, but he puts in the work and he’s part of our team,'” Jackson said.

The former coach added, “That’s when I was the proudest of Kobe,” then left the podium.

Read more: Plaschke: Kobe Bryant statue a perfect portrayal of Lakers legend’s inclusiveness and defiance

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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