Last night’s “Kobe Up Close” with Jimmy Kimmel was spectacular. Kimmel got the Lakers vet out of his shell, allowing fans to really understand what it’s been like to have been Bryant throughout his career.
Let’s start in the beginning, I am talking draft time. Everyone knows Kobe didn’t attend college, but there were a number of schools nipping at his ankles for the chance to get him suited up. Duke has been speculated to be the clear front runner for Kobe’s possible college career over the years, but Bryant finally revealed he would have chosen the 1993 national champion, North Carolina Tar Heels. Surprising, especially as UNC is Duke’s closest rival.
Kobe started his career in Los Angeles with the Lakers, but revealed he could have started in L.A. for the Clippers instead. Bryant revealed that he worked out for the Clippers and they were extremely impressed with him, but ultimately passed on him. Read to what he had to say:
“I had a great workout with the Clippers and they told me it was the best workout they had ever seen. So I said ‘are you gonna draft me?’ and they said no. I asked why and they said ‘We are looking to turn the franchise around and we don’t think the city of Los Angeles would get behind us drafting a 17 year old kid.'”
Crazy. It’s a good thing the Lakers took that chance and that fans grew to absolutely love Kobe. The Clippers would instead take Lorenzen Wright with the seventh pick in the 1996 Draft.
Throughout his career, Kobe has played against some of the best, but his toughest opponent was Tracy McGrady. Kobe said McGrady was “tough to figure out” and that made him especially hard to guard.
So what about this coming season? Bryant is unsure about whether he will play the opening game. However, Kobe did express that he hopes he’ll be able to play less minutes with the additions of Wesley Johnson and Nick Young. Kobe is a veteran and still sees the court a lot; in the month of April, for example, Bryant played an average of 45.2 minutes per game. Bryant stressed the importance of adding young, athletic wing players to shrink the floor on the defensive end, and as he gets older, Kobe is going to need more help. Especially with the unpredictability of this Achilles injury in terms of whether he will come back the same, the younger pups are going to be extremely valuable to create balance.
The Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers D-League affiliate, hired Nick Mazzella as the new D-Fenders general manager. Mazzella has served as the public relations coordinator for the Los Angeles Lakers since 2006. The D-Fenders just recently named Bob MacKinnon, as the new head coach.
It is time for another Roundtable! We asked our Lakers Nation writers who they think will have a standout season and this is what they had to say and it was a tie between Pau Gasol and Nick Young. Check out the post to see why and offer your opinion in the comments.
Lakers Nation News
Kobe Unsure He Will Play in Season Opener [Silver Screen and Roll]
Lakers GM Said He Hopes to Bring Back Kobe and Gasol Next Summer [ProBasketballTalk]
Mitch Kupchak, Los Angeles Lakers GM, Does Not Doubt Kobe Bryant’s Toughness [ESPN Los Angeles]
Mitch Kupchak Doesn’t See Reason for Lakers to Tank for Lottery [latimes.com]
Kobe Bryant explains why the Clippers avoided drafting him [Inside the Lakers]
Kobe Said He Was Leaning North Carolina Over Duke for College [ProBasketballTalk]
Watch Nick Young, Wesley Johnson Shoot at Lakers’ Practice Facility [Lakers Now]
Nick Young: ‘Pride factor is going to kick in’ [Los Angeles Lakers Blog]
Mitch Kupchak: ‘Kobe is a big question mark’ [latimes.com]
Nick Young on Lakers’ 12th-Place Ranking in West: “It’s disrespectful” [Inside the Lakers]
Buss, Lakers Need To Let Dwight Go [Hang Time Blog]
Kobe Bryant Tells Jimmy Kimmel He May Be Out For Opener [USA Today]
Kobe Bryant Doesn’t Know If He’ll Be Ready for Opening Night [ProBasketballTalk]
Los Angeles Lakers Will Be Better Than Last Year [ESPN Los Angeles]
Kobe Bryant: “Dwight is a great kid” [Inside the Lakers]
Kobe Bryant Sees a Return to Pau Gasol as a Return to Winning [Lakers Now]
2013 NBA Summer Forecast — Most Valuable Player [ESPN]
Time to move David Lee [TrueHoop Blog]
Guards Top List in Another Mavericks Makeover [Yahoo! Sports]
Celtics Never Seriously Considered Trading Rajon Rondo [ProBasketballTalk]
Brett Brown Demanded 4-Year Contract to Coach 76ers [USA Today]
Boston Celtics Trade Fab Melo to Memphis Grizzlies for Donte Greene [ESPN Boston]
Clippers Hope to Re-Sign Lamar Odom [Yahoo! Sports]
Phoenix Suns Unveil New jerseys, Sleeved Orange Alternates for 2013-14 Season [The Point Forward]
Jason Kidd Says Kevin Garnett ‘probably’ Won’t Play in Back-to-Backs [ProBasketballTalk]
Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon Introduced by Dallas Mavericks [ESPN Dallas]
Dwyane Wade Underwent Shockwave Treatment for Knee Tendinitis [SI.com]
Top Free Agents of 2014 [Hang Time Blog]
The NBA, A-Through-Z: Larry Bird [Ball Don’t Lie]
Clippers Waiting on Answer From Lamar Odom Before Extending Offer to Antawn Jamison [ProBasketballTalk]
Blake Griffin of Los Angeles Clippers Agrees with Chris Paul [ESPN Los Angeles]
The NBA, A-Through-Z: Larry Bird [Yahoo! Sports]
Grading the Washington Wizards’ Offseason [The Point Forward]
Ten Big Decisions [Sports On Earth]
Dwyane Wade Getting Back on Basketball Court This Weekend [ProBasketballTalk]
Billy Hunter Lawsuit Against NBA Players Union Moved to Los Angeles [ESPN]
The Struggles of Former Lottery Pick Jonny Flynn [Grantland]
2013 NBA Summer Forecast — Rookie of the Year [ESPN]
Michael Jordan Can Still Dunk at Age 50 [For the Win]
Paul George Says He is Ready to Step Into No. 1 Role with Pacers [ProBasketballTalk]