The head coach of the New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau, exchanged text messages with the late Kobe Bryant just a few days before Bryant’s fatal helicopter crash. Kobe was seeking advice on training for his daughter’s basketball team and hoped to meet with the NBA coach on his next visit to Los Angeles.
In an interview with the New York Post, Thibodeau recalled his latest conversation with the NBA legend.
“The irony is probably about a week before, 10 days before [the helicopter crash], he wrote me a message, we were talking about the team that was coaching with his daughter’s team,” Thibodeau told New York Post. “I had gone out to Los Angeles a bit to spend time with Doc [Rivers], and he asked me when I was going out again, we would get together. Very sad.”
While working as an assistant coach for the 76er of Philadelphia, Thibodeau fostered a relationship with an older Bryant in high school, working on his game at a nearby Saint Joseph gym.
In a 2010 interview, Kobe talked about how “crucial” Thibodeau was in helping him as a young basketball player.
“It was crucial,” said Bryant through ESPN. “He was with me when I was 16 or 17 years old. I’m just doing exercises and just working on ball management and teaching me the game. It had been there since day one. “