The ever-growing legend of Kobe Bryant is a story that most people are familiar with by now. Bryant was drafted with the 13th overall pick in the famed-1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. Bryant, who was just 17 at the time, was picked by the Hornets out of Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia. However, Bryant never played a single game for the Hornets as he was packaged and shipped to Los Angeles for center Vlade Divac. It was a trade that was overlooked at the time, but ultimately changed the landscape of the league forever.
In a recent interview with Peter Vecsey of the New York Post, Bryant discussed his feelings towards some of the teams that overlooked him on draft day back in ’96, and showed a little resentment towards those teams that refused to give him a chance.
One of the most interesting parts of the interview comes when Bryant is asked about then-Charlotte Hornets general manager Dave Cowens, who was the one who drafted Bryant in ’96. Bryant told a Vecsey a story of how Cowens called him after the pick was announced and explained to him that he would be moved to the Lakers, and that “we don’t need you anyway.”
Kobe is as stupefied and infuriated now as he was then. ‘Can you believe someone would say something like that to a 17-year-old!’ he says, his face one-third smile, one-third scowl and one-third sinister. ‘That really threw me. It really hurt. Especially since it came from him. I knew about Dave Cowens. I knew what a great player he was. I followed his career. I looked up to him because he played so hard and showed so much passion. That spit just blew me away!’
From Bryant’s perspective that does seem like a harsh statement to relay to a 17-year-old fresh out of high school, but Bryant did place himself in that position by choosing to join the professional ranks. Still, it was moments such as these that Bryant was able to use as motivation throughout his career.
Those who have followed Kobe’s career in the NBA know he is an expert at motivating himself and finding the drive and determination to accomplish his goals, even if others believe those goals are a bit too lofty.
During the rest of the interview Bryant tells more stories about league general managers that worked him out during that summer but didn’t draft him when the opportunity came. His resentment towards those men and those teams may not be as strong as it was back in 1996, but there’s no doubt Bryant relished the opportunity to prove each and every one of them wrong.
And at this point in his career it’s safe to say he has done just that.