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Kobe Bryant spent 20 seasons as one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the NBA, but according to one of his old teammates, he could have chosen a different career path: political analyst.
Free agent center Roy Hibbert spent just one season with the Los Angeles Lakers, but that was more than enough time for some memorable conversations with Bryant. While most of their teammates were just starting out in the league, Bryant and Hibbert were older and wiser, preferring to talk about topics like business, politics, and life after basketball.
Appearing on an episode of The Ringer’s “The Watch” podcast, Hibbert recounted a conversation in which the former league MVP not only predicted President Donald Trump’s win in the 2016 election, but also correctly guessed some of the decisive states that would carry him to victory over Hillary Clinton.
“One time, he was telling me that he thinks Trump is going to win,” Hibbert said. “And I was like, ‘No way!’ … And he broke down why he thought [that]. With the states, why Hillary isn’t visiting this place, this place, this place, to get these votes.”
While he didn’t go into specifics, Hibbert seems to be referring to Clinton’s lack of public appearances in several Midwestern states in the months leading up the election. The former secretary of state did not campaign in Wisconsin at all, and she didn’t spend much time in Michigan or Pennsylvania either. Trump won all three states, becoming the first Republican candidate to do so since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Hibbert said he laughed at Bryant’s prescient prediction when he first heard it, but he was reminded of the conversation via a text he received the day after Election Day.
“At 5 a.m. or 3 a.m., [Bryant] texts me, ‘I told you so.’ … He’s just smart. He just goes about everyday life analyzing everything,” Hibbert said.
Hibbert said that Bryant wanted Clinton to win the election, a fact that the future Hall of Famer alluded to last November, according to Bleacher Report. Bryant also spoke positively about President Barack Obama over the summer, saying he helped athletes “progress beyond just asking questions or just being angry.” But despite his support for Democratic leaders, the ultra-competitive Bryant didn’t let his personal views cloud his assessment of the political climate, leading him to predict a Trump victory.
Hibbert played just 48 games last season, averaging 14.2 minutes and 4.6 points per game for the Charlotte Hornets and Denver Nuggets. The two-time All-Star remains unsigned.