On the Court With... Kobe Bryant

On the Court With... Kobe Bryant by Matt Christopher Read Free Book Online

Book: On the Court With... Kobe Bryant by Matt Christopher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Matt Christopher
Tags: Biography
uniform number, 24.
     

    Waving goodbye to the ball, Kobe demonstrates flawless execution.
    The gym erupted with applause. His peers had long known of his desire to go to the NBA and they wholeheartedly supported his
     decision. But Kobe wasn’t finished.
    “I know I’ll have to work extra hard,” he said, “and I know this is a big step, but I can do it. It’s the opportunity of a
     lifetime. It’s time to seize it while I’m young. I don’t know if I can reach the stars or the moon. If I fall off the cliff,
     so be it.” Then he stepped from the podium and embraced his parents as an informal press conference took place.
    Kobe’s mother reiterated the family’s support of their son. “We were going to support him no matter what he chose to do. Whether
     it was college or the NBA, we’re always going to support him. That’s what we do. It was Kobe’s decision.”
    Then she added, “With Kobe, nothing really concerns me about this decision. Like any parent, I have concerns about drugs,
     alcohol, and fast women, but kids are encountering that in high school.
    “But Kobe is a balanced young man,” she went on. “He’s always stayed focused on what is really important. I don’t worry with
     Kobe or any of my children, because we have a great family foundation.”
    Then Joe Bryant spoke, admitting, “Hey, I wouldhave liked Kobe to go to school for four years and go to Harvard. But is that reality? This was Kobe’s dream. This is his
     life, so it was his decision.”
    All of a sudden, Kobe Bryant was big news. His decision to go straight to the NBA was a national story, and Kobe became instantly
     familiar to most professional basketball fans.
    His next step before the draft was to select an agent to represent him in contract negotiations. A few weeks after his announcement,
     Kobe and his family traveled to New York for a much larger, glitzier press conference at the headquarters of Adidas America,
     the sneaker and sportswear company. He announced that he had selected the William Morris Agency to represent him, and their
     first act was to sign him to a multiyear endorsement contract with Adidas. “I’m very excited for this opportunity,” said Kobe.
     “I’m one hundred and ten percent sure I made the right decision.”
    Adidas CEO Steve Wynne said, “We view Kobe Bryant as one of a new generation of athletes who we think will transform sports
     in this country. Kobe is a kid with a vision, a kid with a dream. I think his pursuit of that dream is going to be one of
     the most heartwarming stories in American sports over the next couple of years.”
    Kobe Bryant had yet to play a minute in the NBA. He didn’t even know which team was going to draft him. Yet the deal was reportedly
     worth nearly ten million dollars. Kobe Bryant was already a millionaire before he had played a second of pro basketball.
    A number of NBA teams had scouted Kobe throughout his senior year at Lower Merion, and they now redoubled their efforts. Several
     teams asked him to attend private workouts so they could assess his skills in a controlled setting. Playing against high school
     kids was one thing, but performing in a near-empty gym under the scrutiny of NBA coaches and scouts was another.
    The Los Angeles Lakers were one of the teams that flew him in for a tryout. While growing up, Kobe had been a huge Lakers
     fan, primarily because his favorite player, Magic Johnson, had played for them.
    But after Johnson announced his retirement in 1991 upon learning he had HIV, the Lakers had rarely exhibited the championship
     form that marked the Magic years, a fast-breaking, thrilling style of play fans called “Showtime.”
    NBA legend Jerry West was the Lakers’ president. In the 1960s he had led the Lakers to the NBA Finals six times, where they
     lost each time to the Boston Celtics,before finally capturing a title in 1972. As a player, West was one of the best all-around talents in the history of the league.
     A

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