It feels like only yesterday when a scrawny 17-year-old kid out of Lower Merion High School named Kobe Bryant was selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft and dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Twenty years later, "The Black Mamba" is considered the crown jewel of one of the most stacked classes in NBA history. Numerous All-Star appearances, Most Valuable Player honors, and championships came from a group of players who undoubtedly left a mark on the game of basketball.
Noteworthy picks from 1996 NBA Draft
|1||Allen Iverson||76ers||Georgetown||2001 NBA MVP|
|2||Marcus Camby||Raptors||Massachusetts||2007 NBA Defensive Player of the Year|
|3||Shareef Abdur-Rahim||Grizzlies||California||2002 NBA All-Star|
|4||Stephon Marbury||Bucks (traded to Wolves)||Georgia Tech||2-time NBA All-Star|
|5||Ray Allen||Wolves (traded to Bucks)||Connecticut||NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made|
|6||Antoine Walker||Celtics||Kentucky||3-time All-Star|
|13||Kobe Bryant||Hornets (traded to Lakers)||Lower Merion HS||5-time NBA champion|
|14||Peja Stojakovic||Kings||PAOK (Greece)||3-time NBA All-Star|
|15||Steve Nash||Suns||Santa Clara||2-time NBA MVP|
|17||Jermaine O'Neal||Trail Blazers||Eau Claire HS||6-time NBA All-Star|
|20||Zydrunas Ilgauskas||Cavaliers||Atletas (Lithuania)||No. 11 retired by Cavaliers|
In hindsight, Bryant should've gone off the board a lot earlier than he did. Although several talents picked ahead of him turned out to be above-average pros, none were better nor had more impact on the game than he did.