Elder Bryant is 'a great basketball mind'

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- When Kobe Bryant's basketball upbringing is mentioned, it's said Bryant is the son of a player, but it's often overlooked that he's also the son of a coach.

Bryant's father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, played eight seasons in the NBA for Philadelphia, San Diego and Houston, and seven more as a professional in Italy. When his playing career ended, he embarked on a career on the sidelines, first as a girls high school coach and later as a collegiate men's assistant coach at his alma mater, LaSalle University, as head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA and, most recently, as head coach of teams in Japan and Italy.

The elder Bryant is looking to get back into coaching men's basketball in the United States, telling KHON2 TV in Honolulu Friday, he planned to apply for the head coaching position at the University of Hawaii.

His son gives "Jellybean" a full endorsement.

"I might be a little biased, but he's a great basketball mind," Kobe Bryant said after the Lakers' shootaround at the U.S. Airways Center on Friday afternoon, as the team prepared for a game against the Suns.

"He taught me from an early age how to view the game, how to prepare for the game and how to execute and things like that. I know firsthand what a great teacher he is and I think players that played for him, with the Sparks and things like that, can attest to it as well."

Joe Bryant coached the Sparks to a league-leading 25-9 record in 2005-06 and Lisa Leslie was named the league MVP.

"He loves coaching," Kobe said. "He loves being around the game, no matter what form it is. He enjoys teaching, he enjoys talking about the game, so it would be a treat if they're smart enough to sign him. It'd be a treat for him."

The younger Bryant then offered a bit of extra incentive for the Hawaii athletic department to consider when filling the position.

"Not to mention, they'll get a lot of Nike stuff," Kobe said with a laugh.

Dave McMenamin cover the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com