Former NBA player Tim Legler offered a memory about his first glimpse of Kobe Bryant on the basketball court, which came when Bryant was just 15 years old.
Legler spoke about how offseason pickup games in the Philadelphia area always had plenty of talent, with Bryant’s performance against NBA professionals getting his attention.
“I’m getting my ankle taped. I’m gonna jump into a game, and I’m watching the game being played, and there’s this dude out there, and he’s doing pretty ridiculous athletic stuff,” Legler said. “You could tell he was young, but he looked kind of scrawny, but striding out. Playing against Eddie Jones, I’ll never forget it. He was an All-Star for the Lakers, and they’re going head to head pretty much, and I literally said to the trainer, ‘Oh, who’s that guy?’ I thought he was gonna say, ‘Ah, that’s such-and-such. He plays at whatever college,’ whatever. He says, ‘Oh, that’s Kobe Bryant. That’s Joe Bryant’s son.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, okay.’ I said, ‘How old is he?’ He goes, ‘Oh, he’s 15. He’s 15.'”
Jones was selected by the Lakers with the 10th overall pick of the 1994 NBA Draft and later became a teammate of the younger Bryant with the Lakers. He remained with the team until being traded in March 1999.
Depending on when the games were taking place, the situation occurred either in 1993 or 1994. Regardless of the year, it was clearly evident at the time that the younger Bryant possessed some incredible athletic gifts.
In 1996, the younger Bryant was drafted in the first round with the 13th overall pick and later dealt to the Lakers. Over the next 20 years, he established himself as one of the greatest basketball players ever, helping lead the Lakers to five NBA titles.
The younger Bryant is one of many NBA players whose father also played in the league. In this particular case, the elder Bryant put up much more modest numbers over an eight-year career that spanned from 1975 to 1983.
Sadly, the younger Bryant’s death in a January 2020 helicopter crash eliminated the chance for him to offer his own insight into those competitive contests.
However, memories like the one Legler offered about the younger Bryant help illuminate just how talented a player he was. The memories figure to linger in the minds of all basketball fans for decades to come.