In a exclusive interview with The Art of Dialogue, platinum producer Delray Richardson shares an untold story of the time Kobe Bryant met Tupac Shakur.
The brief meeting between two icons happened on August 11, 1996 according to Delray Richardson. A young 17-year old Kobe Bryant who had just been traded to the L.A. Lakers met Hip Hop’s hottest star in Tupac Shakur.
A few days prior to meeting Tupac, Kobe had been traded from the Charlotte Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers. A trade that almost didn’t happen. The Hornets selected Kobe as their No. 13 draft pick, but immediately traded him to the Lakers for Vlade Divac.
Charlotte Hornets General Manager Mitch Kupchak in 1996 was the assistant General Manager. Speaking to the Charlotte Observer, Kupchak remembers the trade vividly. “There was such excitement around the pick that Charlotte actually didn’t want to go through with the deal,” Kupchak said to the Charlotte Observer. “There was a time there, whether it was Vlade [Divac threatening to retire] or just pressure on the franchise, where the deal was actually in jeopardy.”
Divac did not retire, and the deal was finalized, much to the excitement of Jerry West who at the time was the Lakers General Manager, and was a strong advocate of bringing Kobe to the Lakers.
Back to the night Kobe met Tupac. On this particular night LL Cool J and Outkast were performing. After entering the House of Blues with Tupac and the Outlawz, Delray noticed a young Kobe Bryant.
“I see this tall dude standing there, and I’m like to that’s Kobe Bryant right there. So, I walk over to introduce myself and say what’s up. I told him to you play like Mike, and he was like, ‘Man thank you man I appreciate that. Now mind you Kobe just getting into L.A., and I’m tripping over the fact he only seventeen years old. You know, like how he got into the House of Blues. But, I’m like man that’s Kobe Bryant,” explains Delray Richardson.
“Tupac and Kobe they met. It was nothing deep or nothing like that. It was more so of Kobe who went to Tupac, cause Tupac probably didn’t know who Kobe was at that particular time. But, I do kind of remember that he introduced himself and said what’s up,” says Delray.
On this very night Kobe was also witness to a meeting between Tupac Shakur and Nas. The beef between the two Hip Hop icons is well documented. A beef that was squashed 3 days before Tupac’s passing at the MTV Music Awards after party in New York.