What do you buy for a man who takes helicopters to games?
If you’re DJ Mbenga, you buy Kobe Bryant a court with his name on it in the Congo. Seriously. It’s in the official Lakers Blog -- not The Onion -- so you know it’s true.
I told him, “I’m going to give you the best gift you’ve ever had ... I’m building a basketball court in Congo with your name on it. People they love you there. You helped me to get a ring, I’m going to give you something back. I’m going to give you a basketball court with your name - that’s something nobody else can have. Even Michael Jordan never had that. I told him, “You’re going to give people hope. There are kids that are stealing, killing, (doing drugs) ... instead I want them to play basketball at the Kobe ... Bryant ... Court.” It’s going to be in Kinshasa.
It makes me feel great. He told me he was going to have a surprise for me, and something he and I talk about often is visiting Congo and speaking to some of the kids. DJ and I have a really close relationship. This is a tremendous honor, something that I didn’t expect. (DJ does) a ton for (the people) over there. It’s something that people don’t hear about, but he doesn’t do it for the attention, he does it because it’s something that’s close to his heart. I absolutely have to (go visit).
DJ Mbenga is one of the more interesting interviews in the NBA when you get him talking about the Congo and his work there. He has a foundation and donates a larger percentage of his salary to causes than just about any player ever in the league. It’s personal and he’s passionate.
And this is a gift from his heart. That is what you get someone.