“WHO is Kobe Paras?”
This question was answered in a five-minute report with the same title that was shown on Fox Sports on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) that focused on the 19-year old Creighton Bluejays guard who dreams of one day playing in the NBA.
The five-minute segment included interviews with Paras, his teammates and his high school coach in Los Angeles’ Middlebrook Academy.
“My family is kind of a big thing in the Philippines,” began Paras, who has more than 600,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter.
He described his father and former PBA player and MVP, Benjie Paras, as a “living legend.”
“He’s so famous in basketball and he’s so famous in acting. It’s so much impossible to go to the mall to shop, there was so much people bombarding us. I didn’t even know how famous my family was so when I was eight or nine, I was like, 'What’s going on?”
Teammate Jordan Scurry shared, “Sometimes people would stop him at the mall, ‘Oh my God, you’re Kobe Paras! Can I take a picture?’ and I’d be like, ‘Man, this is so Kardashian status!’”
Paras said his fans “just followed me wherever I went.” He shared how a Filipino family waited to take his photo when he arrived at LAX.
“It was unexpected, I thought I was going to be a normal kid for once.”
Creighton teammate Davion Mintz recalled how they were in New York City for the first-time: “Neither one of us have been there before and this store clerk, she just kept following us everywhere we went and she came to us and said, ‘Are you Kobe Paras?’ and she immediately just started crying from seeing him. I knew it was serious.”
There was also an instance when an adult Filipino woman asking for Kobe’s autograph had to be asked by one of their coaches to leave the locker room.
Paras explained why he decided to pursue his basketball passion in the US.
“Basketball in the Philippines is huge. It’s a religion. When I was in the Philippines, everything was being handed to me in a way which really wasn’t something I wanted to do.”
William Middlebrook, his high shool coach said, “Coming to America helped him get on a stage that was bigger. A lot of kids aren’t really like that. A lot of kids want the easy way out.”
Paras said the question he asked himself was. “Why not be in the States? Why not be more successful and be more passionate with what you’re doing?”
Middlebrook said Kobe is “a guy who people believe has a chance to make it. That’s what he’s carrying - the hopes and dreams of a nation.”
“My dream is to make my country proud so I just need to represent it in a good way,” said Kobe.
Nick Bahe, Fox Sports analyst and a former Creighton guard, described Paras as “a good kid.”
“You see a lot of kids getting the limelight, getting a lot of success early, sometimes that can create somewhat of an attitude problem. I think all you have to do is to watch him during a game. He hasn’t gotten much of an opportunity to play a ton but he is the most enthusiastic guy at the end of the bench. That speaks volumes to the kind of humility that he has, even with the celebrity status that he has."
The Fox panel described the 6-6 freshman as “grounded” with Omaha being a ”perfect fit” for the young man who possesses “a good feel for the game, tremendous athlete and will continue to develop and will likely to be in less trouble in a small town unlike in LA.”
Also featured on the show was Kobe’s dunk on LeBron James when the NBA superstar visited Manila couple of years ago, which according to the Bluejays, Kobe would choose to be mum about.
Middlebrook, Kobe’s high school coach said, “All I know is whatever happened that day the country exploded.”
Muntz said Kobe was such a “humble dude” that he would deny he dunked on 'The King.'
“I didn’t really dunk on him… Playing with LeBron was amazing. He’s my idol. So playing against him made me really happy,” Paras said.
Whatever the accounts, Creighton forward Cole Huff has this assessment of the Filipino phenom.
“Honestly Kobe is the most impressive dunker I’ve seen in person. I just try to stay away from him when he’s in there.”