Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is still sticking to his claim that the Charlotte Hornets did not want him when he first made his way into the NBA, according to CBS Sports.
On Monday night, the retiring Kobe Bryant played his final game at the Time Warner Cable Arena, where the Los Angeles Lakers lost 98-108 to Jeremy Lin and the Charlotte Hornets.
Since he is on his farewell tour, Kobe Bryant received quite the warm response from the Charlotte Hornets fans, just like he has been receiving from various other NBA teams this year.
The reason why this particular game was more noteworthy than the other ones is because Kobe Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, whom he claims did not really want him.
Kobe Bryant has been sticking to that story since the moment he set foot in the NBA, even though there are many people there that dispute what actually happened before that draft.
Those close to the Charlotte Hornets believe that then Los Angeles Lakers general manager Jerry West and agent Arn Tellem orchestrated to get Kobe Bryant to southern California.
At the time, Jerry West was really fond of Kobe Bryant and wanted nothing more than for the Philadelphia native to become the centerpiece of his beloved Los Angeles Lakers.
As far as Arn Tellem is concerned, most agents would prefer their players to be with one of the more popular NBA franchises because it meant more revenue from endorsement deals.
There are also claims that Arn Tellem prevented Kobe Bryant from working out for the Charlotte Hornets and New Jersey Nets, in hopes that it would deter them from drafting Bryant.
According to Kobe Bryant, the Charlotte Hornets did not have a need for him because they already had guards Muggsy Bogues, Dell Curry and Kendall Gill in their perimeter rotation.
With the eight pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, the New Jersey Nets selected Kerry Kittles. While he was a known commodity from Villanova, Kobe Bryant had the bigger upside to him.
In addition to securing the draft rights to Kobe Bryant, the other part of Jerry West’s plans to rebuild the Los Angeles Lakers was to sign center Shaquille O’Neal as a free agent.
The big problem for Jerry West was that the Los Angeles Lakers did not have the required salary cap space in order to outright sign Shaquille O’Neal away from the Orlando Magic.
Vlade Divac was the highest paid players on the Los Angeles Lakers roster with a $3.3 million salary. The veteran also occupied the center position that Shaquille O’Neal prefers to play.
When Alonzo Mourning rejected a $78.4 million contract extension, the Charlotte Hornets traded him to the Miami Heat, which meant that they had a voice at the center position.
Jerry West was brilliant enough to know that Vlade Divac could be a starter for the Charlotte Hornets and would be a better option than someone that doesn’t want to play for them.
Kobe Bryant almost never became a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, as Vlade Divac immediately threatened to retire from the NBA instead of reporting to the Charlotte Hornets.
It took a little of convincing, but Vlade Divac agreed to stay in the NBA and play for the Charlotte Hornets. After two seasons, he signed with the Sacramento Kings as a free agent.
Kobe Bryant, who had reportedly threaten to go play professional in Europe, ended up becoming a legend for the Los Angeles Lakers and winning several NBA Championships.
The history of the NBA would have been drastically different had Kobe Bryant not ended up with the Los Angeles Lakers.
[Featured Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]