I miss this cocky kid. I miss the cocky 17 year old who went up against Lester Earl in one of the best high school dunk-offs I’ve ever seen and celebrated after every dunk with karate moves and Q Dog signs. A 17 year old who wasn’t afraid to throw down a between the legs dunk in the middle of a game back when a between the legs dunk would win you a NBA dunk contest (Kobe would find that out years later). I miss the trash-talking teenager who impressed Jerry West so much in a predraft workout where he played against and supposedly “destroyed” Michael Cooper, that West actually said afterwards “He’s better than anybody we have on the team right now.”
Damn! I bet Nick, Cedric and EJ didn’t know that.
West later got his wish and was able to trade for the teenager who for a couple of years was one of the league’s best dunkers. Everybody knows that Kobe has had his share of great dunks but most people wont go as far as me and say between 1998-2000, Kobe Bryant was easily showing that he belongs in the top 10 game dunkers of all-time list (if you disagree, besides Vince Carter, who in the NBA was throwing down more game windmills, 360s, reverse oops and poster dunks than Kobe?).
He was just as impressive off the NBA court too. I’m not going to say much about his less than impressive 1997 dunk contest win in the NBA but when the cocky 20 year old went to the Philippines in 1998, he was doing dunks years before we saw anybody do it in a NBA dunk contest – worth noting is the NBA cancelled the dunk contest in 98 and the lockout prevented an All-Star weekend in 99.
Yeah I really miss this kid. Karate poses, raps and all.