This Week In History: Kobe Bryant makes NBA debut in 1996
An MVP. Five NBA championships. The Los Angeles Lakers’ all-time scoring mark. Before Kobe Bryant could accomplish these feats and many more, he had a humble start to his NBA career.
Picked 13th overall in the 1996 Draft, Bryant landed in Los Angeles via a Draft-night trade with the Charlotte Hornets (who originally drafted him). He would join a remade Lakers squad that added Shaquille O’Neal in free agency that summer to a core featuring Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, Cedric Ceballos, Rick Fox and Elden Campbell.
Bryant played six minutes off the bench on Nov. 3, 1996 in his first NBA action, going scoreless with a rebound, a block and a steal in the Lakers’ 91-85 win over the Kevin Garnett/Stephon Marbury-led Minnesota Timberwolves.
While his debut was nothing special, Bryant eventually found a steady role with the Lakers in his first season. He made the All-Rookie second team after averaging 7.6 points, 1.3 assists and 1.9 rebounds per game, the first of many in a career’s worth of individual and team honors for Bryant.
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