To truly understand the scope of Kobe Bryant’s greatness, I compare my life in the lead-up to my 18th birthday with his.
Me: Waiting until my crush logged on AIM Instant Messenger and waiting anxiously for a message. When she didn’t (she never did), I’d put up an away message (something stupid like ‘be are be’) and just sit there, hoping she’d regret missing her shot (she never did). When it became a hopeless endeavor, I’d log into a chat room and spray out ‘a/s/l?’ messages to truckers in Iowa.
Kobe: After leading his high school team to its first state championship in 53 years, taking R&B star Brandy to his senior prom, becoming the first ever guard drafted directly out of high school, needing his parents to co-sign his NBA contract because he was underage, Bryant wasted no time in utterly dominating the best athletes on the planet.
In rare footage from Kobe Bryant’s final NBA Summer League game in 1996, just weeks before his 18th birthday, Bryant finished with 36 points, 5 assists, 9-22 FG, 1-2 3PT, 17-21 FT in the come-from-behind win.
The footage was not broadcasted by the NBA, but filmed by scouts and teams for player evaluating purposes at The Pyramid Long Beach State Arena. The fact that it even exists is proof of God.
LMAO bro I see some 18 year old kid do this now and I’d be like he’s gonna be in this league for a loooooong time.. holy shit was Kobe ahead of the curve even vs NBA guys pic.twitter.com/cqHWG89DPn
— 🏀 Vino (@VinoUncorked) August 9, 2021
never seen this footage before pic.twitter.com/l7TBVwYAqe
— jr swish (@unclepivot) August 9, 2021
Bryant finished four Summer League games before his inaugural season with the following statline:
1996 Lakers vs Pistons – Summer Pro League (Kobe’s pro debut) (Kobe 25 pts) ***
1996 Lakers vs China – Summer Pro League (Kobe 22 pts)
1996 Lakers vs Warriors/Pacers – Summer Pro League (Kobe 15 pts)
1996 Lakers vs Suns – Summer Pro League (Kobe 36 pts)
Stat totals: 24.5 ppg and 5.3 rebounds.
Bryant would go on to become the youngest player to ever play in an NBA game (18 years, 72 days) and the youngest NBA starter (18 years, 158 days). Sheesh.
Here are the full highlights from July 1996.