After graduation, he declared the draft for an NBA draft in 1996 and was selected by Charlotte Hornets for Los Angeles Lakers. He was picked 13 times for the overall draft. Although there had been many inconsistencies of the draft, the Lakers agreed with the trade by the Hornets. For many years, Bryant had worked so hard for Los Angeles Lakers when he finally had to let go because of the draft. Since he was just 17 that time, his parents also had to sign the contract together with Lakers. A year after, he finally was able to sign on his own at the legal age.
Star during the 1996 NBA Draft
In California where he joined the Summer Pro League, Kobe had successfully scored 25 points. The defenders had a hard time standing before him to take a score. His performance has excited the Lakers and West coach who is Del Harris. His play in that year has made him a more valuable basketball player. He was even considered as the youngest player and starter to play in one of NBA games at the age of 18.
By the end of the season, Kobe had more time to play in the court. In the All-Star Weekend, he participated to the Rookie Challenge and then won the Slam Dunk Contest in 1997. He then got the recognition of being the youngest dunk champion at 18. His overall performance had contributed a lot for him to earn points and get a spot in the NBA All Rookie as his second team.
His second season with his new team, he had gathered more time for playing while being able to show off more of his abilities as a skillful young guard. He even was able to play with his previous team, the Lakers and played alongside with his team mates before. With his excellent performance in basketball, he got the runner up spot in the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. Through fan voting, he became the youngest NBA starter of all time in the history of NBA. The 15.4 points that Kobe had gained was actually the highest that any non-starter has ever made in that particular season.
From 1998-1999, Kobe has emerged to being a truly professional basketball idol as the premier guard in his league. The season has given with more opportunity to earn money as he signed an extension to his contract for 6 years that’s worth $70 million. The contract has kept him with Lakers for another 6 years until the finale of the 2004 season.
Creating a Mark in the NBA History
The fortune of Bryant was even more exemplified as the team changed their coach to Phil Jackson. He was a former coach of the Chicago Bulls when he decided to shift to Lakers. Under his leadership, the team had won three consecutive championships from 2000 – 2002. The end result had a better impact when Jackson took over to LA Lakers. He used the triangle offense, which he was known for. The O’Neal and Bryant duo was a back-to-back strong bench that led to the consecutive win of Los Angeles Lakers.
With Jackson’s system, Kobe together with his teammate Shaq really looked differently on the court. It seemed like the balls has moved freely in their hands and standing was even lesser. Almost all time that the players had spent in the court has been very busy as each player is trying to take a chance on the ball. Then you add a veteran player, Ron Harper, LA Lakers has all the main ingredients for winning. For three separate winning, the Lakers got the best record and home court benefit as well. As the season ended, O’Neal was selected as the best candidate to the league MVP.
Meanwhile for Kobe, he has enjoyed his years as a pro basketball player. Because of his sprained bone in the right hand, he missed almost 15 games. Although that was a big disappointment for him, he never regrets all those years that the game has turned him into a seasoned player who perfectly blended with his teammates. He has been known in the industry for his sterling defense.