To Understand the End of Kobe Bryant, You Must Understand Where It Began

February 12th, 2016 by Michael Pina Leave a reply »

Kobe Bryant was 18 years old when he formally introduced himself as a budding star to a national audience. It was in Cleveland, Ohio, at the league's 47th All-Star Weekend; a celebrity-studded event to commemorate the NBA’s 50-year anniversary. 

Up until the midseason break, Bryant’s NBA career was but a blip—more spectacle than substance. In 39 games with the Los Angeles Lakers, he averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assist per game, with a field-goal percentage that barely cracked 40 percent. He came off the bench in all but two games and was hardly a dependable figure in head coach Del Harris’ rotation, stuck behind Eddie Jones and a 35-year-old Byron Scott.

But at 1997's All-Star Weekend, Bryant was everything.

The Saturday night Rookie Challenge featured unforgettable names like Steve Nash, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Antoine Walker and Marcus Camby. 

The legendary Red Auerbach led the Eastern Conference rookies, while New York Knicks icon Red Holzman coached Bryant’s Western Conference squad. Holzman first mentored Phil Jackson nearly 30 yea ...

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