During the 1996 NBA Draft, Kobe Bryant was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th pick, and promptly traded to the Lakers for center Vlade Divac. At the time, it seemed like a big win for the Hornets, since Divac was one of the better big men in the league and Kobe was coming out of Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, one of the first guards ever drafted straight out of high school to the NBA. Kobe recently compared Charlotte’s big mistake to the Cavs sending Andrew Wiggins (plus Anthony Bennett and a protected first-round pick) to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love, who — to be fair — is perhaps a shade more talented than Divac was at the time.
With little evidence Mamba would make it in the league, the Hornets agreed to the exchange. We all know what happened next, Kobe teamed with Shaq to win three straight titles, before winning two more teamed with Pau Gasol. Divac played well for the Hornets after the exchange, averaging 12.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.2 steals in 35.1 minutes a night. Still, Kobe became legend, and the Hornets will forever rue the day they made the trade. Again, it appeared one-sided at the time, but no one knew how good Kobe could be. The same thing applies with Wiggins, which is a connection Kobe made.
Here’s Kobe on the proposed trade — it still can’t be officially completed until August 23 — and it’s parallel’s with his own introduction to the league when he was moved before ever playing a game for the Hornets:
Kobe Bryant: “ Cleveland is making the same mistake that Charlotte made with me ”.
— 2014MrBasket (@2014MrBasket) August 14, 2014
There are a couple things at play here if this is in fact what Kobe said. One, he is drastically downplaying how effective Kevin Love has been on the glass and scoring the basketball. We’ve mentioned it before, but there have only been two seasons over the last decade where a player has averaged greater than 25 points and 10 rebounds in an NBA season, and Kevin Love has both of those seasons — in 2011-12 and again last season.
Secondly, Kobe is obviously reacting a little bit to the perceived heavyweight being put together in Cleveland. After Love comes aboard, Cleveland will have a new Big Three with Kyrie Irving, Love, and LeBron James, plus a few role players (Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao) to compliment the stars; although, don’t tell Dion he’s not a star.
Kobe might just be jealous, since the Lakers lost Pau to the Bulls this year when he became a free agent and didn’t really make much of a splash in free agency.
Then again, Andrew Wiggins might go on to become Kobe Bryant 2.0, he’s certainly got the motivation. Still, we think trading for Love is the smart move by the Cavs here, since they’re acquiring a known all-star who will play his prime in Cleveland just as LeBron reaches the latter portion of his own prime.
Is Kobe right?
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