Back when he was drafted to the NBA, Kobe Bryant made something remarkable during those days, going straight from high school to the association without any college experience.
That was a move that got more popularity at the end of the decade, but Kobe was part of a select group of individuals that went from preps to the pros without any collegiate experience.
However, the 5x NBA champion recently revealed he regretted that decision. Speaking with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Bryant explained the regret he experienced immediately following the decision. Via the “All The Smoke” podcast:
“I saw my peers playing 30-35 minutes per game doing their thing, and I am sitting here glued to the bench. I was getting really pissed off and ticketed off, thinking I should have just go to college. That was the hardest part.”
Kobe had to ball out his way to the top, as then-Lakers coach Dell Demps put him in 71 games that season. He averaged only 15 minutes per game despite putting up some decent numbers as an 18-year-old.
The next campaign was completely different for him, fortunately. Bryant still came off the bench, but he averaged 26 minutes per game. He would become the youngest All-Star starter in NBA history.
His career only got better from that point. The Lakers were defeated in the playoffs during a lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. Then, the Black Mamba improved his level in each of the next two seasons as the Lakers would go on to capture three consecutive championships.
One could say he had to go to college before making it to the league. Even he had regrets during his first season, but that helped Kobe become the killer he was on the floor and one of the best players in the world for two decades.