Mamba Day: Mark Caguioa looks back at rare ‘moment’ with Kobe Bryant

In the rare instance Mark Caguioa had with Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, the Barangay Ginebra star shared how nice a person the NBA legend was.

Caguioa actually recalled a time when Bryant easily granted a photo opportunity with him in 2011 when the Lakers star came back to Manila to serve as the playing coach of the Smart All-Stars that played against a PBA selection.

The “Spark” was part of the PBA stars that went up against Bryant and Co., which lost by a big margin, 131-105 on July 2011.

But that hardly mattered said Caguioa, who had the priceless opportunity of chatting with the “Black Mamba” and eventually get a photo taken with him, along with then Ginebra teammate JC Intal during the event.

“With Kobe, I would have to say he’s probably the nicest person, parang (Manny) Pacquiao when he first came here (PBA),” Caguioa shared to FOX Sports.

“Hindi siya (Bryant) snob because to me, mas snob pa nga si Derek Fisher eh. I was really upset na Derek Fisher was like that more.”

For a long time, the Ginebra resident star had a mindset that the 2-time NBA Finals MVP could be a snob, given that certain strong personality he carried during his 20-year career.

But all that changed when he came face to face with the Lakers superstar.

“I thought he would be mayabang because he has that aura na I would think this guy wouldn’t take a picture (with me), but I was really surprised, me going up to him, asking for his picture was super easy,” he said with a smile.

“And I saw Kobe and what kind of a player he was on and off the court. He’s a great person,” added Caguioa.

The 36-year-old Ginebra guard even got a good piece of advice from the Black Mamba in terms of his secret to longevity in the NBA.

“He just talked about how he stayed in the game, and he said to just take care of your body,” shared the former Glendale Community College standout. “And for me, I’m always thinking about that and that’s it, take care 0f it.”

Caguioa said he was saddened to see Bryant retire after leading the Lakers to 5 NBA championships.

But for that brief moment he had with Bryant, Caguioa hopes to draw inspiration from it as he tries to help the Kings end their 8-year PBA title drought. – By Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava