Kobe Bryant made a wave in the NBA even before he was drafted in 1996. This was majorly due to his remarkable high school stats and excellent basketball IQ. Notably, Bryant was an All-Time leading scorer in Southeastern Pennsylvania High School with 2,883 points. Despite such impressive achievements, few people and teams doubted him because he was a high school graduate.
Among these were the Boston Celtics, who were left impressed with Bryant’s interview but made a decision as per their requirements back then. Interestingly, Bryant is widely renowned in the Lakers jersey but that was not the team that picked him. Charlotte Hornets drafted Bryant but traded him to the Lakers, the team that Bryant dreamt of since he started playing basketball.
Furthermore, Red Auerbach spoke to the head coach of the Celtics M.L. Carr about Bryant. He said, “I think this kid is going to be a hell of a player. But it can go either way”. Auerbach continued to say that he is a solid player but he is just a high school boy. Additionally, he dropped the ball in Carr’s court as he said, “You’ve got to make a choice based on what you need today”.
Notably, Bryant was the only the 6th player to make it to the NBA straight out of high school. This is also why the Celtics and Auerbach were in dilemma over the decision to pick Bryant. Carr ended up deciding to pick whoever was left among the Top 6 prospects instead.
M.L. Carr knew that Kobe Bryant could haunt the Boston Celtics in the future
Even though it was M.L. Carr who decided to not pick Kobe Bryant, he knew that Bryant could haunt them. He said, “We all looked at each other. And we knew there was a possibility that Kobe could come back and haunt us. We knew that”. This speaks volumes about the impact that Bryant’s performance had on them and everyone else throughout his career.
Kobe Bryant puts on an amazing performance in Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics:
29 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST
91 Lakers, 84 Celtics
June 8, 2010pic.twitter.com/w8MVE0n7Jb
— Hoop History (@H00PHISTORY) July 22, 2022
Furthermore, that is what Bryant exactly did multiple times. One of the most notable being during the 2010 NBA Finals. Bryant with his Lakers teammates claimed victory against the Boston Celtics. This became Bryant’s fifth NBA championship win, whereas, the Celtics were able to earn only one ring since Larry Bird retired. Notably, Bryant averaged 25.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 31 games against the Celtics during his career.
Kobe Bryant once spoke about playing with the Boston Celtics
Kobe Bryant disliked the the Boston Celtics growing up yet he did give thought about how he would contribute if he were to play for the Celtics. In 2015 during an interview with ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, Bryant revealed, “I would’ve tried to carry on Bird’s legacy”. Furthermore, he added that he would have done so with a tremendous amount of pride and honor.
Notably, Bryant was committed to the Lakers throughout his twenty-year-long professional career. Fans would have likely felt weird imagining Bryant in the Celtics jersey instead of the Lakers. Black Mamba has undeniably left a legacy in the NBA and no one has been able to replace him.