It’s not hard to find a fan of New Girl. Nearly four years after the sitcom’s series finale, viewers still flock to its feel-good vibes, lovable leading men, and the aspirational fantasy of living in a loft with your best friends. But despite the obvious appeal, Hannah Simone (Cece) and Lamorne Morris (Winston) were still pretty surprised when one of the world’s most famous athletes showed up to set and revealed he, too, was a fan.
In a recent interview with E! News, Simone and Morris — who started the Welcome to Our Show podcast with Zooey Deschanel this January — recalled when the late Kobe Bryant paid a visit to the FOX lot and spent some quality time with the cast.
At first, Morris thought Bryant was an actor — a ridiculously tall one. “I was like, what actor is 6’6”? Like, this is silly. Who is that? ... I genuinely felt like I was about to have a heart attack. I didn't know what to say. If anyone knows me, they know that I'm a huge basketball fan.” Morris continued, adding that Bryant “sat back and chatted [the cast] up.”
Simone then chimed in and said, “I'll never forget, because all the guys were dumbstruck.” she went on, “They were all just kind of standing at a distance, looking at him, and I remember him sitting by himself, so I went and sat with him.” Casual!
According to Simone, they managed to get into some serious stuff. “We just sat and talked about his childhood growing up, and how he started in basketball, and what kind of drove him to it, and his relationship with his parents,” she remembered.
The Los Angeles Laker’s visit happened on the heels of a major moment in New Girl history. The podcasting pair told E! that the cast was shooting Season 2’s “Table 34” at the time — which immediately followed “Cooler,” aka the episode in which Jess and Nick share their first kiss.
But the plot thickens! As Deschanel told Seth Meyers in 2014, her sister, Emily Deschanel, said Bryant had visited her on the set of Bones the same day. “[Maybe] he was like, ‘I like these Deschanels so much, I want to visit the other set,’” she suggested. Whether Bryant was just doing the set rounds or had a soft spot for the showbiz sisters, it sounds like the day was a memorable one for all involved.