When looking back at the magnificent career of Kobe Bryant, many would fail to reflect on his hard days. But the Mamba faced a lot of struggles in his initial years in the NBA. He said, “If I knew this shit was going to be like this, I would have went to school.”
Coming into the league, his first coach was Del Harris. Kobe was just 17 years old when he got drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996. He was a young boy who earned recognition from the very beginning while playing for Lower Merion High School. Further, he earned the Naismith High School Player of the Year in his senior college days. That talks a lot about the level of his game.
Getting into the league was a ‘tough’ phase, as Kobe described it. He never liked sitting out of games and that’s exactly what happened in his first two years.
“I felt like my coach, Del Harris at that time was trying to make sure he was not showing favoritism to the young kid. And as a result, he swung completely to the opposite direction and doing things that weren’t really fair,” he told on ‘All The Smoke’ podcast. “I mean not playing, so like my first two-three years were a nightmare.”
An entire generation has seen Kobe Bryant win five championships and an MVP title in 2008. But few know about his hard times sitting on the bench the first few years. His peers, including Allen Iverson and Ray Allen, used to play for about 30 minutes or so at that time.
“I’m sitting there glued to the bench getting really really pissed off and ticked off thinking I should’ve just be going to college. That was the hardest part,” he mentioned.
Yes, he would have preferred college at that point since he was doing too well there. He was a known sophomore at that time, and that popularity never drained out.
In the years to come, Kobe became the model of perseverance and hard work. His performances and records spoke volumes about what a fantastic player he turned out to be.