Kobe Bryant has been an All-Star every year since his second year as a professional basketball player. He’s proven himself in the NBA, heck he’s proven himself globally. Even those who aren’t avid basketball indulgers know who Kobe is; he’s ‘that dude from the Lakers’.
Kobe Bryant was drafted number 13 overall in the 1996 draft straight out of Lower Merion High School at the tender age of seventeen. The 1996 draft also saw the Philadelphia 76ers net their franchise player in Allen Iverson with the first overall pick; if you’re not sure who Allen Iverson is perhaps ‘that dude from the Sixers’ might ring a bell or two.
Apart from the welcoming of young studs Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant, the 1996 NBA Draft wasn’t entirely riddled with superstar talent. While it produced the likes of sub par journeymen and mediocre role players such as Eric Dampier and Lorenzen Wright, as well as your flop pick in Travis Knight, it did in fact produce some names worthy of mention: Antoine Walker, Marcus Camby, Ray Allen, Derek Fisher and Steve Nash are a few to be named from the ’96 draft who’ve found their rhythm in the NBA making a robust living for consistently competitive teams.
But when you think of the 1996 NBA Draft you think Mr 81 points against Toronto – Mr Kobe Bean Bryant.
Sitting parallel to his 15 All-Star selections, which finds him sitting in second place behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who suited up for a total 19 All-Star games in his career, Kobe Bryant has a total of four All-Star game Most Valuable Player awards, too.
And to add to the list of Bryant’s accomplishments only helps to highlight his formidable basketball prowess; as a perennial all-star he has led the Los Angeles Lakers to a total of seven NBA Finals appearances and five championship rings to date, and he’s a two-time scoring champion who has found himself selected on a total of 12 NBA All-Defensive teams.
Among the aforementioned, Bryant secured the regular season’s Most Valuable Player award in 2008 for his stellar statistical year that included 28.3 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game and 5.4 assists per game. Most impressively, he played and started in all 82 games of the 2007-2008 regular season in which he won the MVP award.
Kobe “Black Mamba” Bryant has for long drawn comparisons to Michael Jordan numerically and fundamentally. He and Michael Jordan share that similar competitive edge – it’s a kind of glaze in their eyes that’s suggestive of the burning, passionate desire to constantly succeed.
The wounded Sacramento Kings were recently at the chokehold of yet another one of Bryant’s historic achievements as he surpassed Wilt Chamberlain to clinch the fourth spot on the NBA all-time scoring list.
As Bryant delicately dribbled the ball up the court weaving his way through the
swiss cheese-like defense of the Kings, the succession of Chamberlain came at the charm of his signature step-back where he sunk the mid-range jumpshot from the free throw line with his usual fundamental soundness on display. This marked the moment where he wriggled past Chamberlain with points 31,420 and 31,421, respectively. Another moment where Bryant – once again – proved himself in historic fashion as a bona fide student of the game.
When asked post-game about his notable achievement against the Kings Bryant spoke with sincerity and acknowledgeable conviction. “What a journey. It’s been a very, very long journey,” he said.
Bryant explained that it was “tough” to get his head around the fact he had surpassed Hall of Famer and basketball great Wilt Chamberlain.
“I’m certainly extremely appreciative of the support from the Laker faithful and the Laker nation from being a 17-year-old kid to a 34-year-old man, and all the support that they’ve given me throughout my career.”
Bryant now has a total of 31,434 career points after surpassing Chamberlain’s 31,419. He now finds himself 858 points away from Michael Jordan’s third place total of 32,292.