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Men’s Health: Jalen Rose Remembers Playing Against Kobe Bryant During His 81-Point Game

October 30, 2020

“He told us to get down or lay down,” the NBA star-turned-ESPN star said.

Jalen Rose is used to criticism; he played 13 seasons in the NBA, after all. Now a different kind of veteran—an ESPN talking head—Rose has fancied himself a second career, and one that his huge personality and irresistible smile make him a natural fit for. He’s also a natural fit for the latest edition of Vs. The Internet, a series where Men’s Health finds some of your favorite and most notable celebrities, and asks them to face the depths of humanity: internet comment sections.

Rose is a busy man—he’s currently in a variety of roles for ESPN, including co-hosting both the morning show Get Up! and the afternoon talk show Jalen & Jacoby and serving as one of the primary voices on ESPN’s flagship NBA pre- and post- game show, NBA Countdown. In addition to his numerous on-air roles, Rose is taking on even more, having just launched a new column and podcast with The New York Post, called “Renaissance Man.”

But in Vs. the Internet, he’s directly snapping back to comments people have made on social media, including Tweets and memes. One of those memes says that Rose “looks like he’s about to drop an album with the hit single ’81 Problems,'” a reference to Kobe Bryant’s legendary 2006 game against the Toronto Raptors when he scored 81 points—a Raptors team Rose was a part of.

Rose, ever the good sport, saw the meme and took the roast lightly; rather than take offense, he took it as an opportunity to praise the late NBA star. “What I want everyone to know? He didn’t have no highlights that game. That’s how much be put the smack down,” Rose said. “It ain’t no up and under, double-pump, behind-the-back, reverse…it’s none of those plays. It was so easy for him, and he was so locked in.”

The 6’8″ former forward also praised Bryant’s notoriously focused on-the-court style. “He never talked trash. Because when you start talking trash sometimes you lose concentration. He stayed locked in, he put the smack down. He told us to get down or lay down. Rest in peace, legend.”

Rose also took the time to address a few more notable moments of 2020, like when he shouted, live on-air during an episode of NBA Countdown coinciding with a Miami Heat-Boston Celtics playoff game, to arrest the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor.

“I did yell that. And I hope I said it with my chest,” Rose said in the MH video. “That day is when her ruling came down. 6 bullets. They’re not in jail. I couldn’t imagine being an NBA player that day. I was sweating under my jacket. I changed shirts twice. I couldn’t have been running, and jumping, and playing the game I love that night. I admire NBA players—they’re my idols. And to play through situations like this? I admire the Milwaukee Bucks. They’re my idols. They stood up for something. They took two-and-a-half plus hours out of their lives, and they called the state representatives to try to change laws.”

He further elaborated on what led to his NBA Countdown proclamation.

“I didn’t know how to express myself. I didn’t know if I should not be at work, I didn’t know if I should just, out of protest, leave work.” he said. “Somebody had just made a basket, and the fact that somebody’s jersey said ‘Say Her Name’…and that’s what I was doing.”