McKinley might have been the 6-foot-tall daughter of the former 6-foot, 9-foot NBA superstar, but Bryant didn’t promise anything. She was not given a starting point immediately – not even with the Mamba team who needed a position. Practices were often held Monday through Friday in Orange County, where most of the team’s players lived, which meant that McKinley was expected to make the long trek from the San Fernando Valley. After training, she had to run more to “catch up with the other girls,” Zach recalls telling Bryant.
None of that, however, stopped Randolph from calling him “perfectly adequate”.
“Like a puzzle, man,” said Randolph. “My daughter was very high. All she talked about.”
He said that McKinley was “intrigued”. McKinley said he was exaggerating. Although she said she was “very nervous” at first about being trained by Bryant, “after a week it was like, ‘Oh, he’s just a normal guy.” While some of the girls on the team called him coach Bryant, McKinley said she “just called him Kobe.”
Where father and daughter agree easily: Bryant helped McKinley get better right away.
“I work with her a lot, but you can tell the difference with Kobe,” said Zach. “When Kobe was speaking, he didn’t have to say, ‘Watch out. “
“He basically taught me how to play defense and how to turn,” McKinley said.
When asked to describe Bryant’s behavior in training, McKinley added, “You will know when he’s crazy, or he’s not playing, but he’s never going to like you.”
The pandemic delayed the start of McKinley’s new season at Sierra Canyon School in the Chatsworth Department of Los Angeles, but her game continues to evolve. Although MacKenly is aiming with her right hand and Zach is left-handed, comparisons to her father who combines strength, cunning and the professional touch of scoring are frequent. Such is McKinley’s potential so much that she received oral scholarship offers from Louisville and Arizona before playing one game in high school.
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