Back in 2005, about a month before Kobe Bryant made NBA history by scoring a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors back, the superstar guard had an incredible performance against the Dallas Mavericks.
Bryant outscored the Mavericks by himself by putting up 62 points in three quarters at the Staples Center. Dallas had no answer for Kobe that night with the Lakers guard being virtually unstoppable on the basketball floor.
On Saturday, Bryant gave some insight as to what motivated the 62-point outburst against Dallas. Apparently, then-Mavericks assistant coach, Del Harris, was the motivating factor which sparked the offensive onslaught via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
“When I was a rookie, I hated Del,” Bryant said. “I always said if I get a chance to get revenge, I’m going to get it.”
Harris was Kobe’s first coach in the NBA, and it seems as though they never really saw eye-to-eye during their time together in Los Angeles. Harris’ stint with the Lakers was short-lived despite being NBA Coach of the Year in 1995.
The Lakers brass parted ways with Harris only 12 games into the 1998-99 NBA season after the team split those games for a record of 6-6. Kurt Rambis took over as the interim head coach. This move paved the way for the Lakers to bring in Phil Jackson for the 1999-00 season and the rest is history with the team going on to win three consecutive NBA titles with Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal leading the way.
As for Harris, the former Coach of the Year moved on to the Mavericks. Harris was in Dallas from 2000 to 2007 and has since stayed in the assistant role with short stints with the Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets.
Harris is currently the vice president of the Texas Legends of the NBDL. Ironically enough, the current head coach of the Legends, Nick Van Exel, is a former teammate of Bryant’s and also frequently butted heads with Harris in Los Angeles.