LeBron James, Michael Jordan, or Kobe Bryant — who of the three had the best high school career? For Mike Krzyzewski, that’s not even a question. Granted, the legendary coach never got to see LeBron play in highschool. But between MJ and Kobe, Coach K had no trouble making his pick.
When I saw Kobe play, he’s the best HS player I’ve ever seen. When he walked into a gym, he walked in like Jordan at a HS level.Mike Krzyzewski, Diversion Podcasts
Numbers also work in Kobe’s favor — over 2000 points, four 40+ point games, two 50+ point games, and only three games with less than 20 points during his senior year alone. But according to Krzyzewski, Bryant’s case for the best high school player ever isn’t even based on numbers.
He could not only play the role during a game; he played the role before and after the game. He looked that good, he believed he was that good, and he was that good. I knew he was never gonna come.Mike Krzyzewski, Diversion Podcasts
It’s the swag Bryant epitomized even as a teenager and an aura about him that long transcended high school gyms that stood out the most for Krzyzewski. But he never went all in recruiting the star from Lower Marion High School. Why? Because Coach K knew there was no way of persuading the guy.
I never thought he’d go to college. Nobody recruited him to any deep level because I knew he was never gonna come.Mike Krzyzewski, Diversion Podcasts
Well, perhaps Krzyzewski should’ve kept at it, at least judging by what the late great Lakers icon said during a Q&A on Twitter in 2017 when he answered a fan’s question about which school he would’ve chosen had he not decided to go to the NBA straight from high school.
How different would Kobe’s NBA career have been had he gone to Duke? Would being in a collegiate environment have helped his character? Would it have made him less aloof early in his NBA career? It turns out we weren’t that far from finding out the answers to these questions. Certainly not as far as Coach K thought.