Nick the Quick shared the locker room with Kobe for two seasons before getting traded to the Nuggets. He had first-hand insight into the emergence of the young shooting guard from Lower Marion High School. And after two and a half decades, that’s what he remembers Kobe for – an 18-year-old kid, hungry to prove himself to the NBA world.
I see the young Kobe, the 18,19-year-old Kobe, you know what I’m saying? So, the things he said he was going to do, he did it.Nick Van Exel, Knuckleheads Podcast
From day one, Bryant had that flashiness to him. He had that swag to him that you simply can’t teach. Kobe was fearless from the first day he got into the league, and it never left him. That’s what Nick the Quick loved the most about the kid.
The story behind Kobe’s posterizing jam on Ben Wallace in ’97 paints the perfect picture of the bravery of a young Kobe Bryant. Remember Lakers’ players going crazy after the dunk? Well, the flashy basketball highlight wasn’t the only reason for it. It’s Kobe Bryant – the prophet.
The things he said he was going to do, he did it. Kobe told us, coming out of the time out after Del drew up a play to give him an iso at the top of the key. Kobe told us, ‘I’m about to cross this fool up and dunk on him.’ That was his exact words leaving the huddle. So our reaction’s like ‘this dude just said, he like…and he did it! ‘At 18 years old, dog!Nick Van Exel, Knuckleheads Podcast
That was Bryant’s ‘told you so’ moment in the NBA. Something that has been a trademark of Larry Bird was done by a second-year shooting guard wearing purple and gold. The biggest precondition for doing something like that is having the utmost confidence. Bird had it, and to everyone’s surprise, the 18-year old Bryant also had it.
Now it wasn’t typical for NBA teens to do such things at such a young age. But Kobe wasn’t your typical NBA teen, nor was he your typical NBA superstar. This fortune-telling poster was just the overture to the player Kobe was going to become. The killer that feared no one, not at 37, not at 18.