Kobe Bryant himself told the tale of how he and Jimmy Fallon met as near-babies on The Tonight Show in 2015, but like every story about the late basketball superstar, this week is all about revisiting the stories that make up his mythology. On Monday night, a tearful Fallon recalls meeting a 17-year-old Bryant in 1996, the year he joined the L.A. Lakers, at a party with an impending beer shortage.
“Kobe was such a life force, so strong, creative and inspired that in my head, I thought that he was going to live forever,” the Tonight Show host explained. Fallon, then a 21-year-old stand-up, met Bryant and journeyed with him to Pink Dot, which is not a liquor store or deli, but rather a delivery service. Luckily, Kobe had the key that would unlock any establishment in L.A.: a Lakers ID card. “We saved the party, we said goodnight, and, of course, Kobe went on to be a legend,” Fallon said, choking up. “When we’d run into each other over the years, we’d laugh about that night that we first met.” Concluded Fallon, “Kobe, when we meet again, we’re going on a beer run.”