The NBA would have been completely different in the last 20 years if a big move happened over two decades ago. Kobe Bryant is considered one of the biggest Lakers of all time, but that could have been different if it wasn’t for a huge factor.
Jonathan Abrams reveals in his book, ‘Boys Among Men: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution’, how the Philadelphia 76ers were very close to pick Kobe in the 1996 NBA draft.
This was a big possibility because Philly wanted to pair Kobe with Allen Iverson, as Abrams describes in his book.
“In 1996 Sixers scout Tony DiLeo wanted to draft high schooler Kobe Bryant and discussed trading a young Jerry Stackhouse to pair Iverson and Bryant together.”
In the end, that didn’t happen and Kobe ended up playing for the Lakers, becoming a total legend in Los Angeles. If he landed in Philly, there is no doubt he would have been a hometown idol, but things didn’t work that way.
Kobe would go to play with the Lakers, winning 5 NBA championships, one of those against Iverson and his Sixers, while becoming one of the best players to ever do it.
The Sixers had a visit to the Finals, but AI wasn’t unable to do much, as it was visible during their clash in the big series against the Purple and Gold back in 2001.