Best NBA Draft steals of all time: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
The Charlotte Hornets selected Kobe Bryant with the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, then promptly traded him on draft night to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac.
It may go down in NBA history as one of the biggest mistakes a front office has ever made.
As the story goes, Charlotte coach Dave Cowens told Bryant that the team did not need him since they were already deep at both shooting guard and small forward. Later that night, the Hornets made the trade with the Lakers and the rest is history.
While Bryant is a polarizing player for his approach to the game and ferocity with his teammates, there is no denying his greatness.
Bryant has the second most NBA All-Star appearances (18) of any player in NBA history. He is tied with Tim Duncan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James for the most All-NBA selections (15) in league history.
Bryant is tied for the second most All-Defensive team selections (12) in the NBA. He was the NBA MVP in the 2007-08 season, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, four-time All Star Game MVP and has five NBA titles.
While not in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame yet, it is a no-brainer that he will be a first ballot inductee as soon as he is eligible.
Bryant routinely finds his name in the “greatest of all-time” discussion along with players like Michael Jordan and James.
Players like Bryant come around once every 20-25 years. He is a rare breed of talent that will go down in history as one of the best NBA players of all-time. When a player with that pedigree is selected 13th overall, it may be an understatement to consider them a steal.