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Bob Licht: In the Lane

November 2, 2007

THE KOBE BRYANT TRADE

The first time Kobe Bryant was traded there were no SportsCenter media alerts, no John Paxson press conferences, no trade demands, no baseless speculation.

The first time Kobe Bryant was traded he was a teenager. His dad, Joe Jellybean Bryant was the best-known basketball player in the family.

The first time Kobe Bryant was traded was 1996. And he was traded by the Hornets.

In 1996 Kobe Bryant was a high school star in Philadelphia (Lower Merion HS, USA TODAY and PARADE Magazine Player of the Year). In a prearranged deal the Hornets drafted Kobe Bryant 13th overall and then dealt him to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for center Vlade Divac.

The story very few people care to remember about that transaction is that the Hornets had back to back 50-win seasons in the two campaigns that followed. The first season they won a franchise-record (still standing) 54 games. When they reeled off 51 the next season it became the first (and only) consecutive 50-win campaigns for the franchise.

So, as the Hornets prepare to play Kobe and the Lakers on Tuesday night in Southern California, and we all wonder whether there will be a SECOND Kobe trade, lets keep some facts in mind:

(1) 12 TEAMS PASSED ON KOBE IN THE 1996 DRAFT

(2) THE HORNETS ADVANCED TO THE PLAYOFFS IN THE FIRST TWO SEASONS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE TRADEADVANCING TO THE SECOND ROUND OF THE NBA PLAYOFFS IN THE SECOND SEASON THAT FOLLOWED THE KOBE TRADE.

(3) HAD KOBE ATTENDED FOUR YEARS OF COLLEGE HE WOULD HAVE BEEN DRAFTED IN 2000THE SAME YEAR CURRENT HORNET SHOOTING GUARD MORRIS PETERSON WAS DRAFTED.

(4) KOBE SCORED 50 POINTS IN THE LAST MEETING AGAINST THE HORNETS (HIS NBA RECORD-TYING THIRD-STRAIGHT 50+ POINT GAME).

(5) KOBE HAS SCORED 30 OR MORE POINTS AGAINSNT THE HORNETS IN 5 OF THE LAST 7 MEETINGS AGAINST THE HORNETS AND 40+ POINTS IN TWO OF THOSE GAMES.



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