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Tim Legler recalls witnessing 15-year-old Kobe Bryant doing 'pretty ridiculous athletic stuff' against Eddie Jones

At 15 years old, Kobe Bryant knew that taking on the big boys was part of the process
Tim Legler recounts witnessing 15-year-old Kobe Bryant doing 'pretty ridiculous athletic stuff' against a Lakers star

Dallas Maverick Tim Legler showed up in a pick-up game where he saw the Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Eddie Jones already going "head to head" with a youngster.

Editor's note: a fan pointed out Tim Legler's timeline doesn't add up. Kobe was 15 in '93 - Eddie Jones at Temple at that time. We're keeping the story in its original form and promise to do better math in the future.  

At the young age of three, Kobe Bryant already fell in love with basketball. Since then, nothing has derailed Bean's progress, and he became one of his generation's most highly-touted high school prospects.

As a teenage aspiring NBA player in the U.S., the young Bryant knew he had to turn his potential into legitimate skills. By doing so, the basketball prodigy was also well aware that facing the big boys inside the court was a part of the process.

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A showdown with a Lakers star

Many NBA stars prepare for the season by playing pick-up games against fellow NBA players and non-NBA players in the summer. Sometime during the early 90s, former Dallas Maverick Tim Legler showed up in a pick-up game where he saw then-Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Eddie Jones already going "head to head" with a youngster.

According to Legler, the kid was showing off his athleticism and was really going at it with Jones on the court. To his surprise, Legler learned from a trainer in the facility that that kid was a 15-year-old Bryant.

"I'm getting my ankle taped. I'm gonna jump into a game, and I'm watching the game being played, and there's this dude out there, and he's doing pretty ridiculous athletic stuff," Legler said via Lakers Daily. "You could tell he was young, but he looked kind of scrawny, but striding out. [He was] Playing against Eddie Jones, I'll never forget it. He was an All-Star for the Lakers, and they're going head to head pretty much, and I literally said to the trainer, 'Oh, who's that guy?' I thought he was gonna say, 'Ah, that's such-and-such. He plays at whatever college,' whatever. He says, 'Oh, that's Kobe Bryant. That's Joe Bryant's son.' I'm like, 'Oh, okay.' I said, 'How old is he?' He goes, 'Oh, he's 15. He's 15.'"

The kid became a Lakers legend

It didn't take long before Bryant's competitiveness and determination paid off. During his junior year at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, he finished the season with staggering numbers, averaging 31.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. He was named Pennsylvania Player of the Year, which captured the attention of renowned colleges in the country.

However, Bryant decided that he was ready to play on the biggest stage and went straight to the pros from high school at age 17. Looking back at Kobe's career, there is really nothing to regret about ditching college basketball for the NBA as Bryant flourished to become a Lakers legend and one of the best shooting guards in NBA history.

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