Ray Allen Explains How Michael Jordan Inspired the 1996 Draft Class Featuring Kobe Bryant

Published 06/26/2021, 4:30 PM EDT


The NBA has seen some incredible draft classes over the years. Be it the recent 2018 class featuring Luka Doncic or the 2003 class featuring LeBron James, some classes have been head and shoulder above the rest. But arguably the most stacked classes were the 1984 class featuring Michael Jordan and the 1996 class with Kobe Bryant.

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With multiple players ending up with Hall of Fame careers and given the massive impact all of these great players had on the game, the 1996 and 1984 draft classes and often considered as the best classes in the incredible history of the NBA.

Ray Allen explains how Michael Jordan influenced the 1996 draft class featuring Kobe Bryant

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The 1996 draft class certainly was one of a kind. With players like Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant, the 96 draft class had a plethora of talented young players. But this draft class was coming at a time when players like Michael Jordan were enjoying their prime.

The 96 class became the perfect bunch of players who would control the league once MJ and stars like Patrick Ewing were gone. Hall of Famer Ray Allen recently explained how his class felt entering to the league and the impact Jordan had on their game. “We’re coming to league thinking MJ is in the league, we all grew up as fans, now it was just about the work, we got to play.”

Allen later went onto explain what made his draft class unique. “We had competed against each other and nothing else mattered other than just winning. We wanted to win, we wanted to be the best,”

He added, “You got a Steve Nash in that draft who’s fighting for respect and he’s carrying Canada on his back and he wants to prove that he belongs.”

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Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) takes a breather against the Denver Nuggets during the second half of the Lakers’ 103-88 game 1 first round NBA playoff game win at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 29, 2012. AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post (Photo By AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The former sharpshooter went on to speak about late Lakers’ legend Kobe Bryant as well. Kobe, he wants to prove that he belongs coming out of high school, so I think the stage was set because these kids that were coming in ’96, it wasn’t about money, it wasn’t about fame, we knew what was in the league,”

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The 1996 draft class certainly left their mark on the game. Be it Allen’s incredible shooting, Iverson’s handle, Nash’s passing and vision and elite two-way play by Kobe, the league surely transformed under the stacked draft class. Which draft class do you think ranks supreme in the NBA?

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Aditya Mohapatra

994 articles

Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.

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