Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant recalled what Charlotte Hornets general manager Bob Bass told him when the organization made the decision to trade him to the Lakers on draft day. While brief and inconsequential, Bass' words had a profound effect on Bryant, which stuck with him for the rest of his 20-year career.
“We couldn’t have used you anyway,” Bass told a then-17-year-old Bryant on the phone while the terms of the trade were being finalized.
“I was triggered,” Bryant admitted to his fellow former NBA players Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles during the Knuckleheads podcast. “I was ready to go to the gym.”
Bryant's trade was tumultuous at best, as the Lakers were looking to trade the rights to their center Vlade Divac, and the 7-foot-1 center threatened to retire if he was to be traded from Los Angeles. However Divac relented on his threat and the trade was finalized once the league moratorium ended, making Bryant officially a Laker.
At the time Bryant was only 17 years old and his parents had to co-sign his contract, able to own it in full once he turned 18.
Bryant would take that competitive fire and make himself one of the most maniacal winners in NBA history, a burning passion that resembled the one Michael Jordan was so famous for during the 80s and 90s. While the trade for Bryant initially was a way to free cap space to pitch Shaquille O'Neal into coming to La La Land, the Lakers wound up getting a duo that would soon take the NBA by storm.