In the final seasons of Kobe Bryant’s 20-year NBA career, whenever he dunked or showed some hops, someone would inevitably scream out “VINTAGE KOBE!” But this…this is actually vintage Kobe!
Watch as he scores 36 points during Summer League play in 1996 via the raw athleticism that propelled him to stardom at the turn of the century.
Bryant’s raw talent was absolutely eye-popping back then. Coming off the NBA draft in which he was selected 13th by the Charlotte Hornets and subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, the 17 -year-old was was already in “I’ll prove you wrong” mode, too. He was even comparing himself to the great Magic Johnson hoping to reach the bar he set so high, and likely already rubbing free-agency prize Shaquille O’Neal the wrong way before they were officially teammates.
His first year in the league was marked by infrequent playing time, flashy dunking, and perhaps his relation with singer Brandy more than anything els. But we all know what this led to: Kobe, a five-time champion, league MVP, and one of the greatest players ever, an outcome that should have been obvious based on his performance in Summer League 20 years ago.