Kobe chronicles: Caron Butler says Bryant ate ribs at a family barbecue in Milwaukee

As Kobe Bryant plays out his 20th and final season with the Lakers, The Times has reached out to players, coaches and broadcasters for recollections about his career.

Caron Butler, a 13-year-pro, two-time All-Star and NBA champion, played one season with the Lakers and Bryant, in 2004-05.

This wasn’t an ordinary barbecue at Butler’s childhood home in Milwaukee.

Bryant, already a three-time NBA champion, was there.

(So were teammates Lamar Odom and Brian Grant, Butler said.)

“We had barbecue ribs, cabbage, everything,” Butler said, smiling. “The house was full of about 30 to 40 people in it and everybody saw Kobe and was like, ‘Aw, man! He eat ribs!’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I pump my own gas, too.’”

Butler’s mother cooked and recorded the meeting on a “VHS tape, old school,” Butler said.

“My mother was just laughing,” Butler said. “It was just a special moment to have him at the house and come back in the neighborhood and just vibe with the family and a lot of loved ones.”

Bryant first approached Butler after he was traded to the Lakers from Miami in 2004. Butler said it happened to be the same day Bryant signed a new contract.

“He was just like, ‘Hey, you ready to work? Be prepared.’ And that was something that stuck out and he’s always been that way,” Butler said.

Butler, now with the Sacramento Kings, and Bryant, a five-time champion, only played one season together, but Butler said Bryant became a great friend and “somebody I’ll consider a friend long after basketball.”

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