Episode 104: Mike Sielski

Mike Sielski is the author of “The Rise: Kobe Bryant and the Pursuit of Immortality.”  Sielski, a sports columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wanted to tell the basketball superstar’s origin story after Bryant died in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020. That’s a story that takes place mostly in Philadelphia.

Sielski interviewed more than 100 people for the book. He was also assisted by long-time friend Jeremy Treatman, who had been an assistant coach and confidant of Bryant’s back in Kobe’s high school days. At one point, Treatman and Bryant were working on a memoir focused on Kobe’s rookie season in the NBA. As a result, Treatman recorded interviews with Bryant on microcassettes during his senior year.

The book never happened, and then Treatman lost the cassettes. He found them just before Christmas in 2020, just three months before Sielski’s book was due to his publisher.  Hearing Kobe’s voice as a teenager helped Sielski get more depth and details that he wouldn’t have had otherwise, strengthening the narrative of the book. 

“The Rise” is Sielski’s third book. In 2005, he co-wrote “How to Be Like Jackie Robinson” with Pat Williams. His second book, “Fading Echoes: A True Story of Rivalry and Brotherhood From the Football Field to Fields of Honor” was published in 2009.

Sielski is the host of the podcast “I Am Kobe,” which also looks at Bryant’s younger life.

Sielski was voted Best Sports Columnist by the Associated Press Sports Editors in 2015. In 2010, his story “Dream Derailed” was included in “Best American Sports Writing.”

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