‘Easiest To Identify With’ NBA Legend Jerry West Explains What Made Kobe Bryant Great

Published 10/09/2021, 12:30 PM EDT
Photo by Rose Palmisano – The Orange County Register


Jerry West is a legend of the Los Angeles Lakers. His successful career with the Lakers landed him on the NBA logo. He had become an executive in the league by the time they drafted Kobe Bryant into the league. In the spring of 1996, as a favor to a friend, agent Arn Tellem, Lakers GM Jerry West agreed to organize a pre-draft workout for a 17-year-old called Kobe Bryant. He saw something in Kobe Bryant that encouraged him to draft him.

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Altogether, that can now be considered one of the best moves in NBA history.

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Jerry West on what he saw in Kobe Bryant to draft him in 1996

West appeared for an interview with Fubo sports, where he spoke about what he saw in Kobe Bryant. “Probably the easiest player that I’ve ever seen to identify with. You know first of all, when you see someone 18 years of age work out against men and he’s so superior to them. And forget the physical part because you’re probably talking about someone older in their career, the mental part was especially noticeable,” he said about Kobe Bryant.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA FEBRUARY 3, 2010–Lakers Kobe Bryant shakes hands with Jerry West during a ceremony at half court to honor Kobe’s record for most points by a Laker at the Staples Center Wednesday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

West, a 14-time NBA All-Star and former player coached the Lakers before eventually joining the front office. He was the architect of the Lakers’ dynasty in the 1980s and has nine championship rings to his name.

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After engineering a draft-day deal with the Charlotte Hornets, he is credited for bringing Bryant to the Lakers. The Lakers traded Kobe’s pick from the Charlotte Hornets who picked him 13th in the draft.

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Jerry West, GM, Kobe Bryant and Head Coach Del Harris (Photo by Steve Grayson/WireImage)

Despite only playing in high school, West recognized Bryant‘s basketball talent early on and didn’t shy away from drafting the 17-year-old.

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Chaitanya Dadhwal

249 articles

Chaitanya Dadhwal is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Even though his journalism is driven by his desire to understand both sides of an argument and give a neutral perspective, he is biased towards Houston Rockets and Arsenal, and he has shown exactly how loyal he can be through tough times. Currently a Law student at Jindal Global Law School, he aims to have his own sports management firm one day and enjoys rap music during his time off.

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