Kobe Bryant: That's why he flew even the shortest distances by helicopter

Sunday morning, NBA legend Kobe Bryant (1978-2020), his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others died on board a helicopter in a crash in a suburb of Los Angeles. The drama happened just a few kilometers before reaching their destination: his own basketball squad, the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. His daughter was supposed to take part in a tournament there. But why did they fly there by helicopter at all? The family practically lives in the same city, also in the vicinity of L.A.

If you look at the flight route of the crashed helicopter, you will be surprised at the extremely short distance Bryant and his daughter wanted to cover. It is just 130 kilometers from John Wayne Airport south of Los Angeles in Orange County to Thousand Oaks, and it would take just over an hour to get there by car. So why did Bryant decide to take this route by plane despite the bad weather?

Bryant always flew to the Staples Center

The answer sounds almost too banal to be true: Probably because he was used to it and almost always did so. Bryant has been a declared fan of helicopter flights for many years. With a reported fortune of around 450 million euros, he could afford to cover even the shortest distances by helicopter. As an active player, he regularly flew the nearly 80 kilometers from his home in Orange County to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, home of the L.A. Lakers.

Bryant saved time and was able to escape the heavy traffic in and around Los Angeles. In addition, a "GQ" reporter who was allowed to accompany Bryant in a helicopter in 2010 described that the exceptional athlete could not sit in a car for more than two hours due to numerous physical complaints such as broken knees, overused feet and a painful back.

He felt fresher when he was flying

With the help of the helicopter, he was able to increase his recovery times, minimize travel stress and thus optimize his performance on the basketball court. He felt fresh walking from the Staples Center helipad to the locker room. The extravagant behavior of the superstar was completely tolerated by the team and the club, after all, he regularly paid back his extravaganzas with strong performances.

Even more: He also gladly made the helicopter leased for himself available to club representatives or teammates when, for example, they had to make an urgent medical appointment. The story is legendary when Bryant took Lakers Managing Director Rob Pelinka (50) with him in his helicopter. The player, who was still active at the time, secretly asked the pilot to fly some spectacular military maneuvers to scare his boss a little.

He should also briefly shut off the engine in the air to simulate a crash. Pelinka later reported on the action later in the Los Angeles Times: "My life passed my eyes. I was about to have a heart attack." Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant remained completely calm and sat tidily next to him. The passion, this passion, this whimper for helicopter flying apparently remained after his active career. Unfortunately, it ultimately led to his death.