NBA Legend Ray Allen Shares Warm Kobe Bryant Memory Before the 1996 NBA Draft

Published 02/10/2021, 4:30 PM EST
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 6: Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers during the basketball game against Golden State Warriors at Staples Center March 6, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in NBA history. Bryant amazed people over the course of his long career in the NBA, making some of the most memorable plays in history.

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Kobe played for almost 20 years in the NBA and made history on a nightly basis. Bryant was a serial winner throughout his career and garnered great success.

Kobe Bryant before the NBA Draft

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Former NBA champion Ray Allen spoke to CBS Sports recently. When asked about Kobe Bryant, Allen shared an old story dating back to 1996.

Ray Allen and Kobe were in the ’96 NBA Draft and were traveling together to the NBA Draft combine. Kobe was so excited to finally get his big opportunity by playing in the NBA, and it resonated with Allen.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA MAY 14, 2012-Lakers Kobe Bryant and Thunders James Harden battle for a loose ball in Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference semifinal in Oklahoma Monday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

He said, “I always remember Kobe before we got drafted in ’96. He was very excited coming out of high school, and he appreciated being in the situation he was in.

“[Kobe] lived in Pennsylvania, so he had a connection to Big East basketball. We had a conversation on the bus going to the Draft Combine, and it felt like he was just happy to get drafted.”

Allen added that Kobe’s passion for life still resonates with him to this day. “That’s what I’ll always remember about him: Regardless of what he achieved, he was a man with excitement and zeal for life.”

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Kobe had a lot of success in the NBA

Despite being very confident in his abilities, even Kobe couldn’t have envisioned the success that he enjoyed. Within 4 years of playing in the NBA, Kobe won his first NBA championship. He then went on to get a three-peat playing alongside Shaquille O’Neal with Phil Jackson as his Head Coach.

Boston, Massachusettes–June 17, 2008 Lakers Kobe Bryant walks off the court as the Celtics celebrate the championship in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at the TD Banknorth Center Tuesday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

By 2008, Kobe Bryant was recognized as an NBA MVP. He then returned to the NBA Finals with new teammate Pau Gasol. He faced off against Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce.

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The Lakers eventually lost the series to the Celtics, but it was only the start for Kobe. He returned to the NBA Finals the next 2 years and won 2 NBA championships, even beating the invincible Boston Celtics.

Kobe is still fondly remembered in the NBA. His presence is still felt, with so many of the current generation taking inspiration from his determination and his will to win.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1313 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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