It’s crazy to think that our very own Kobe “Bean” Bryant was drafted over 17 years ago. He is one of the greatest players in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers, and all that could have changed on the night of the 1996 NBA draft:
Shortly after being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, Kobe’s draft rights were traded to Lakers for Vlade Divac. The deal changed the career outcome of this young phenom out Lower Marion, PA.
17 years later and he is STILL dominating the league that is considered a “young man’s game” to some. He’s still one of the better shooters in the league, always at the top in defense, and of course, the best closer in the game.
Kobe’s journey has not always been a smooth ride, though. His rookie season started off rough, as he was coming off the bench for majority of the team’s games.
He did go on to win the 1996 dunk contest with a flurry of dunks that amazed the crowd of fans and fellow NBA players. The flashy rookie guard felt like he was on top the world.
Down the road as Kobe matured, so did his game, and some of that can be attributed to Phil Jackson. He became fundamentally sound in just about every aspect of the game. He quickly became the face of the franchise, along with Shaquille O’Neal.
Through his career in the league, Bryant has played through numerous injuries – injuries that other players would likely be forced to sit out with and wait for the injury to heal. Some of the injuries Kobe has suffered include back spasms, sore knees, twisted ankles, sprained neck and fingers, shoulder strains (which forced him to play left handed) and most recently his torn Achilles.
None of the injuries have been that severe until he suffered the Achilles injury. Although the injury is serious, the work that the Mamba is putting in is unprecedented. Chris Douglas-Roberts recently revealed that Kobe told him he was “ahead of schedule.”
Kobe has even posted a picture of himself in the gym putting up some shots.
We all should expect Kobe to return with a vengeance in the 2013-2014 NBA season. He’s hungry, he’s mad – he’s ready. Show us you can do it again, Kobe.
This is an article by Mike Texidor. You can follow him on Twitter: @miketexidor21