Kobe Bryant has gone down as one of the greatest players the game has ever seen, with a list of accomplishments that would take a very long time to list down. He won 5 titles, 2 Finals MVPs, and an MVP, to name just a few of his biggest accolades. Not many could have seen all this success coming for Bryant when he entered the NBA straight out of high school in 1996.
Kobe had a slow start to his rookie season, as you might imagine for someone so young, as he averaged 7.6 points per game. No one outside of the building was quite sure about what the future held for this young man, but some within the organization were seeing signs that they might be looking at someone who could be special.
Byron Scott Reveals What Kobe Bryant Was Like As A Rookie
Byron Scott was a star for the Lakers in the 1980s, and he returned for a season in 1996-97, where he got to witness first-hand what Bryant was like as a rookie. Scott, on a recent episode of his podcast, mentioned that Kobe wasn't like other 18-year-old kids and that he had a clear goal in mind from the very beginning.
(starts at 1:05 mark):
"He just had a work ethic about him even at 18 that a lot of 18-year-olds don't have. He wasn't a guy that was going out partying and things of that nature. He had a goal in mind from the day he stepped on the basketball court when he got drafted and that was to be the greatest player that he could possibly be and that's what he told me 'I want to be one of the greatest players in the history of the game.'"
It was that work ethic and that single-mindedness toward being great that made him one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Kobe would go to great lengths to improve on his game as a rookie, as he would also shadow practice without the ball in order to hone his skills, and it definitely worked for him.
Byron Scott On Coaching Bryant In The Final Game Of His NBA Career
Scott also got to coach Kobe towards the end of his career, and he was actually on the sidelines for Bryant's last game in the league. During this episode, he also spoke about how great that game against the Jazz truly was, as Kobe signed off with a 60-point outing.
"Starting that game the only thing I wanted for Kobe was to have a good game. Not a great game just have a good game and he started off 0-5 and I was just standing there going 'This is just not the way I want for him to go out.' I think the next time down he gets fouled he goes to the free throw line and hits a couple of free throws and then that basically got him rolling. Coaching him for that game and watching this game materialize through the first quarter to the fourth quarter and remembering with like the six-minute mark left he's at like 40 and I looked up like 'Oh my god. I can't believe this. What a way to go out.'... I mean he was that tired and to go back out for the next six minutes and get 20 more points it was just amazing."
"At 37 years old I don't think we will ever in our lifetime see a performance like that from a guy who's retiring. Michael Jordan didn't have a performance like that. Magic (and) Kareem none of those guys had something where 60 points in your last game it's just incredible and it was just great to watch it."
That truly was a special game, and it was wonderful to see Kobe head out in that fashion. That final season wasn't easy for him as he was coming off a serious shoulder injury the season prior to that, but he wanted to make sure he went out with a bang.
He gave his fans one last epic Kobe moment to end a magical career that saw him finish as the all-time leading scorer in the history of the most storied franchise in the NBA. Kobe is no longer with us, but the memories he left will last forever.