The main reason Kobe Bryant will go down as arguably one of the greatest Lakers of all-time rather than Charlotte Hornet is due to former general manager Jerry West.
West saw something special in Kobe heading into the 1996 NBA Draft and pulled the trigger on the trade to acquire the talented high schooler in exchange for veteran center Vlade Divac.
A questionable trade at the time, but a brilliant move in retrospect. West forever changed the Lakers franchise with arguably the best trade in franchise history to acquire a confident and cocky 17-year-old fresh out of Lower Merion High School.
West said the following about Kobe’s work ethic a few years back, according to NBA Canada:
“What’s most impressive about this young man are his desire, his work ethic, his competitive nature. [Bryant] comes to the arena at 4:30, before anybody is here, and works on his game alone. He has incredible skills and the desire to be a great player.
“We’re extremely happy with Kobe’s development – and we think he’s going to keep improving. You haven’t seen the best of Kobe yet.”
As a result of West bringing in Kobe, the Lakers have won five NBA titles while being a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference for over a decade.
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