Kobe Bryant’s NBA debut with the Los Angeles Lakers was not as brilliant as he surely wished, nor as gold and purple fans recall, as a series of injuries delayed the start of his professional career, a slight stumble before being included in the second team All-Rookie of that season 1996-97.
In those years, the Lakers were rebuilding the squad around the Shaquille O’Neal figure, but the Charlotte Hornets surprised by choosing Kobe with the 13th pick of the first round of the Draft; however, his father, Joe JellyBean Bryant, pushed for him to finally end up in the Californian franchise, which transferred Vlade Divac to the North Carolina team. Kobe was only 17 years old and signed a $ 3.5 million contract per season.
The Hornets selected Kobe Bryant in the draft and traded him to the Lakers. Photo: APRELATED
After that exchange, Kobe found it difficult to adapt fully to his new teammates because a week before the start of the preseason (96-97) he suffered a wrist injury that took him away from the court for a month and before the start of the regular season hurt his hip.
This injury deprived ‘The Black Mamba’ of appearing in the Lakers’ lineup for the first game of that season in which they defeated the Phoenix Suns 96-82, making the path of the future member of the Hall of Fame and NBA legend officially started on November 3, 1996, when the Lakers faced off against the Minnesota Timberwolves; Bryant was just 18 years old.
During that game, Kobe saw action only 6 minutes and the Angels added his second victory (91-85), but the legend had begun to forge despite his poor statistics against the Wolves: 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 block, 1 foul, 1 turnover, 0 assists, 0 steals and 1 shot attempt.
An unflattering start, taking into account the achievements that came later; However, in his rookie year, Kobe showed evidence of what was to come and the rest is a story that can be summed up in 5 championship rings and records that to date remain valid.
During his first season in the NBA (96-97), the youngest of the three sons of Joe JellyBean Bryant and Pamela Cox participated in 71 games, averaging 7.6 points and 1.3 assists per game; He also saw action in all nine Lakers playoff games. Not bad for a boy who had his first sports contact with football and lived his childhood in Italy.
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Although the injuries did not allow him to exploit his full potential during his first year, Kobe had an outstanding participation during the All-Star Weekend. In the rookies game he enjoyed a moment of punctual glory with a superb performance (31 points), and was proclaimed champion of the diving contest.
The rest of his career was a dominant display by Kobe Bryant, which led to him winning five championship rings, three in a row (2000, 2001, and 2002).
In his honors some outstanding achievements stand out:
He was the youngest player in history to reach 10,000 points (24 years and 193 days).
He broke the 50-point barrier in nine games.
He was the first player in 41 years to score 45 points in four games in a row (2005-2006).
He was the first player to get 12 triples, 9 of them consecutive.
On December 21, 2005, in a game against the Dallas Mavericks, he scored 62 points in three quarters.
On January 22, 2006 against the Toronto Raptors, he achieved the second best point mark in history, with 81, second only to the 100 that Wilt Chamberlain had in 1962.