It’s Draft Night, something you’ve been working for your whole life. What usually happens is you get there, wait until you hear your name called, do your little media stuff, and then go and celebrate with your loved ones. Those are the usual steps every draftee goes through, but the usual never applied to Kobe Bryant.
“Kobe gets drafted, and people know that, when you get drafted in any sport, somebody usually throws this big draft party for you. Kobe gets drafted – no draft party, no celebration, he goes to the gym and works out.”Tim Grover, GQ Sports
It wasn’t your regular way to celebrate signing with an NBA franchise. Now, the reason behind it has something to do with Kobe getting traded right after his name was called. The Charlotte Hornets selected Kobe 13th overall, just to send him to the LA Lakers for 27-year-old Vlade Divac. That in and of itself wasn’t the catalyst for Bryant’s post-draft workout – it was a phone call to Kobe by the Hornets’ GM, and what he had to say to a 17-year-old prospect from Lower Merion High School.
You get drafted, you’re on the phone with the GM of the team that drafted you, and so I get on the phone with the Charlotte GM. He just tells me ‘you know what’s going on‘ I’m like ‘yeah, yeah‘ and you know you got media in front of you and all that, and then he goes ‘well, it’s a good thing we’re trading you ’cause we couldn’t have used you anyway.’ I was like ‘you motherf—–.‘ I was already triggered.Kobe Bryant, Knuckleheads
During his farewell tour, Mamba has said it – the hate was necessary for him to thrive. He fed off of it. Playing at the Garden, hearing ‘Kobe sucks’ chants during the ’10 NBA Finals drove Bryant. The talk about him only being able to win with Shaq pushed him to prove everyone wrong. The ‘you can’t come back after the Achilles injury’ narrative drove him crazy.
Kobe used that negativity as a fuel to propel him forward. He used every single piece of the hate and turned it into a personal challenge. That’s why embracing him would’ve been a safer bet than actually trying to piss him off. Well, tell that to Bob Bass – the Hornets’ GM that did exactly the opposite. He did the last thing you wanted to do when you were dealing with Kobe Bryant – he underestimated him.
Say no more. Kobe laced ’em up and made it his mission to prove him wrong. Did he do it? Ask Mr. Bass – I bet trading Kobe Bryant is his biggest regret as a basketball executive.
Mission accomplished No.24.