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Jerry West Knew Kobe Bryant Was Special After Watching Him Give Michael Cooper Trouble In A Pre-Draft Workout: "Jerry Said, 'That's The One'."

Jerry West Knew Kobe Bryant Was Special After Watching Him Give Michael Cooper Trouble In A Pre-Draft Workout: "Jerry Said, 'That's The One'."

Kobe Bryant declared himself eligible for the NBA draft at age 17 in 1996, a kid fresh out of high school looking to become the next Michael Jordan. While many saw his obvious talents, there were still doubts about how well he would be able to do considering his very young age. One man believed in him though, and that man happened to be Lakers legend Jerry West. 

West was sold on Kobe Bryant after his workout against defensive great Michael Cooper ahead of the 1996 NBA draft. Cooper was 41 years old at the time but still had the strength and a wealth of experience in the NBA to make life very difficult for the young Bryant. However, what Kobe managed to show in that workout convinced West that he was the one for the Lakers. 

"But this particular day Jerry goes, Coop bring your gear cuz I want you to work out. And I didn't know who Kobe was. So when I got down there, there were these two players shooting and Kobe was on the side there shooting it. So Jerry goes, 'Coop there's this kid we're bringing down, we want you to deny him pick-and-roll situations, keep him out the low post, things like that. 

"They bring him down, we introduce each other, I'm like, 'Okay', he sizing me up. The thing that caught my eye was that he was sizing me up and looking me up and down. So we started on the wing and I was just supposed to play him and it was probably the best workout I've ever had. 

"A lot of people might say Kobe kicked my a**, I'm gonna agree, I think I got after his a**. But the bottom line is that we got through the workout, and what amazed me was that the one thing Kobe could do was always go the way he wanted to. Kobe always got the shot that he wanted. He got to his spot. After the workout, I was drenched and I was like, 'Jerry, you know what, I'm taking off the next week'."

"Soon as we finish though, we all gather around, all the coaching staff, and Jerry West says, 'That's the one, that's the one.'"

West was right, of course, Kobe would go on to become arguably the most iconic Laker of all time, on the same level as Magic Johnson. He brought 5 championships to the city and that desire to make the game go exactly how he wanted it to is what drove him to become one of the greatest players of all time. These stories remain as a fantastic legacy to hold on to even though Kobe Bryant is tragically no longer with us.