"Jellybean" Bryant returns to ABA

November 24, 2007 - American Basketball Association (ABA)
Phoenix Phantomz News Release

Los Angeles, CA. After a brief absence from the ABA, The Phoenix Fury has announced that Joe "Jellybean" Bryant will be Director of Player Operations. Bryant who once coached the Las Vegas Rattlers and Boston Frenzy, will work closely with the owner, GM and coaches to cultivate a solid team ready to compete for a championship in the near future. Bryant said, "It's good to be back in the ABA. This is an opportunity to build an organization the proper way."

Bryant, co-incidentally, is God-father to the CEO and Hollywood director, Xavier "X" Mitchell. The two of them worked together on Mitchell's film, "Fathers of the Sport" which profiles the forgotten playground legends of basketball. Mitchell said, "The signing of Bryant instantly increases our possibilities for success. It's going to be good to work with him again."

Joseph Washington "Jellybean" Bryant is a former professional basketball player and the father of Los Angeles Laker star Kobe Bryant. Until April 4, 2007, Bryant was also the coach of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks. After starring at La Salle University, Bryant was drafted in the first round by the Golden State Warriors in 1975. Before the season started, however, he was dealt to his hometown team, the Philadelphia 76ers, with whom he played for four seasons. Bryant headed back to the west coast when he was traded by the 76ers to the San Diego Clippers, for whom he played from 1980-82. After a final NBA season with the Houston Rockets in 1983, Bryant headed to Europe, playing seven seasons in Italy's A1 and A2 clubs in Rieti (1984086), Reggio Calabria (1986087), Pistoia (1987-89) and Reggio Emilia (1989-91). He twice had 53-point games with Pistoia in the 1987-88 season.

Bryant continued to play into his fifties, appearing in several games for the Boston Frenzy of the fledgling ABA. He also appeared in a well-received TV commercial for Coca-Cola, showing his playground basketball skills hadn't diminished with age. On August 17, 2005, Bryant, who had been serving as the assistant coach to the Sparks team in the WNBA, was named Head Coach of the Sparks, succeeding previous coach (and former 76ers teammate) Henry Bibby. During the 2006 season, he led the Sparks to a 25-9 and a Conference Finals berth. However, in April 2007 Bryant was replaced as Sparks' head coach by Michael Cooper, who had previously helmed the team in 1999-2004. Bryant is currrently in Tokyo, coaching the Tokyo Apache team in Ariake Dome. For more information, visit, or Or email

Note: OurSports Central no longer actively covers the American Basketball Association (ABA) as a professional league due in part to its inability to publish and play a schedule and the transitory nature of many of its teams. For information on professional minor leagues, please see OSC's basketball section.

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