When Kobe Bryant was the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, he was still 17 years old.
He also couldn’t get into the nightclub.
Retired NBA veteran Olden Polynice once told me that a bouncer blocked Bryant from getting into a nightclub during NBA All Star Game.
“I think it was his first or second year, and he was already too young to even be at the party,” Polynice told me.
“But it was All-Star Weekend. The bouncers didn’t recognize him. They didn’t know who he was, and I was the one that actually got him into the party. It was funny to me when I thought about it. I wonder what that bouncer is saying right now…18, 20 years later…’Oh my God, that’s Kobe Bryant I turned away.’ That, to me, was crazy how he’s evolved and become this legend, and when he first started, he was an unknown. That’s a testament to him is that story. He became one of the greatest players in our league, and people forget that. He didn’t play a lot of minutes early on in his career.”
Kobe Bryant scored 33,643 points during his NBA career, which places him fourth on the NBA’s scoring list.
During his NBA career, Bryant won five NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards and was the league’s regular-season MVP in 2008.
The longtime Los Angeles Laker who retired in 2016, spent 20 years in the league and was an 18-time NBA All-Star. The Black Mamba was a four-time NBA All-Star MVP, two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist, NBA Slam Dunk Champion, 11-time All-NBA First Team recipient, two-time NBA scoring champion and wore numbers 8 and 24, both of which were retired by the Los Angeles Lakers organization.
On Sunday January 26, Bryant, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California with his daughter, Gianna Bryant and seven other passengers who were traveling to Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California.
Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s former Lakers teammate took Bryant’s death hard. “I think a lot of times we take stuff for granted,” O’Neal said Tuesday on TNT.
“The fact that we we’re not gonna be able to say, ‘If we could have stayed together we would’ve got 10.’ Those are the things you can’t get back. With the loss of my father, my sister … that’s the only thing I wish — that I could say something to him. The last time I talked to him was when he was here [Staples Center] and I asked him to get 50 and he got 60. That’s the last time I spoke to him. I just wish I could have. It definitely changes me. Because I work a lot. You guys know what I do. I work probably more than the average guy. I just really now have to take time and call and say I love you. … I’m gonna try to do a better job of just reaching out and just talking to other people rather than always procrastinating because you never know.”