▪️To anyone reading this born after 1996, there was once a time when Kobe Bryant wasn’t a starter for the Lakers. Blasphemy, right? Bryant’s rookie season was a roller coaster. On any given night, Kobe was either scoring 21 points off the bench or relegated to garbage time with Travis Knight and fellow rookie Derek Fisher.
Preseason games are meant for guys like Bryant to show the coaching staff all of the hard work they put in during the summer in hopes of earning more playing time. It’s also the one time a year for fans who don’t live in a city with a NBA franchise to see pro hoops in person.
🔸With time winding down at the end of the first quarter, Bryant crossed over journeyman guard Jimmy Oliver and set his sights on the basket. Ben Wallace —either not knowing any better or proving that he didn’t give a damn — stepped up in the paint and became the first person in the NBA to find himself on a Kobe poster. Bryant took off from inside the free throw line and demolished Wallace with a ferocious dunk that got Hall of Fame broadcaster Chick Hearn excited:
“Slaaaaaam dunk! Wooooo!”
🔸The Lakers would go on to beat the Wizards, 123-121 in overtime.
🔸"Kobe will have his ups and a downs,“ said Lakers coach, Del Harris, "but he has tremendous talent and a wonderful will to succeed. He is one of the most competitive players I have ever coached. He gets upset losing an inter-squad game.”
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