Kobe Bryant nearly landed on the Boston Celtics during the 1996 NBA Draft as the Celtics front office were enamored by his workout.
The first person to pop into someone’s head when mentioning the Los Angeles Lakers would 9 times out of 10 be the late Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant. Kobe was synonymous with the Lakers franchise and vice versa.
After all, the ‘Black Mamba’ did bring 5 championships to Los Angeles in his 20 year stint with the Lakers. The Lakers were adamant on snagging the then 18-year-old Kobe Bryant in the 1996 NBA Draft any way they could.
Without having gone to college, the high school phenom declared for the NBA draft as a 17 year old. It was clear from the jump that he had limitless untapped potential. Ironically, the Boston Celtics were mesmerized by Kobe Bryant and were intrigued by the idea of taking him in the 1996 Draft.
The Boston Celtics almost drafted Kobe Bryant with the 6th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft
As obvious as Kobe Bryant’s talent was, he was deemed to be a project. The 17-year-old was not NBA-ready and had to be given the right coaching to help him develop into what he could be: an NBA superstar. Kobe worked out for several teams and this included the Boston Celtics.
Then Celtics head coach M.L. Carr was in awe of Kobe Bryant from the jump. “I tell you, he put on a shooting exhibition the way he stroked the ball.”
Celtics general manager Jan Volk chimed in to sing Bryant’s praise and said, “If you closed your eyes and thought a little bit, you might’ve thought you were watching Michael Jordan.”
— Julian Edlow (@julianedlow) January 26, 2021
Seeing Kobe in a Celtics uniform might the Lakers’ worst nightmare considering the decades worth of history between the two franchises. Luckily for them, the Boston Celtics passed on Kobe and went for Antoine Walker with the 6th pick while the now 5x champ fell all the way to the end of the lottery, to the Charlotte Hornets.
The Lakers swooped in and traded for him. The rest, as they say, is history.