“A kid coming out of high school, you weren’t expecting what he became” – According to Keyshawn Johnson, Kobe Bryant was the greatest NBA Draft selection ever made.

In the highly anticipated 1996 NBA Draft, Kobe was selected 13th overall.

In the NBA, the yearly NBA Draft is an exciting and unpredictable event. Now is the moment when young men who have always wanted to play professional basketball might finally realize their goals. However, not every draftee is made equally. While some go on to have distinguished professions, others become obscure. Former NFL great Keyshawn Johnson is ready to criticize the late, great Kobe Bryant when the question of who was the best NBA draft choice ever arises. After being selected with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, Kobe’s path was far from easy. Overcame a challenging rookie year to emerge as one of the most accomplished players in the game, taking home five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVP medals, and an MVP award for the regular season.

The finest thing, in Keyshawn’s opinion, was that no one, save the late Jerry West, saw KB’s potential for greatness. After high school, some kids had natural skill. It was unprecedented in that era for Bryant to become a true star. While Kevin Garnett, who was selected from Farragut Career Academy and went on to become an All-Star in his second season, was an exception in “The Big Ticket,” KG and Kobe were the exception, not the rule. To put it another way, there were players like DeSagana Diop and Korleano Young who never made it, for every Kobe, T-Mac, and Jermaine O’Neal who succeeded.

“I didn’t expect a kid out of high school at 18 years old, when kids weren’t coming out of high school at that point in time, as the 13th pick, to go on to have such a celebrated career,” the former champion of the Super Bowl stated on “Undisputed.” “Back then, they had only begun to graduate from high school. During that period, you had Kobe, Al Harrington, KG, Jermaine O’Neal, and others. You didn’t anticipate becoming the 13th overall choice and going on to have a renowned career.

Kobe’s ascent to fame wasn’t achieved quickly. He struggled to establish himself on the squad for the majority of the season, and when he had the chance to make big shots against the Utah Jazz in the NBA Playoffs, he blew them. But West saw something special in the young kid, and he exploited that to inspire him to become the player he became over the course of his remarkable 20-year career.

“Remember that Jerry West held Vlade and uttered the words, ‘You know what? I want that child in high school. We are about to trade our guy for the high school boy, so please be quiet.” Johnson continued, praising West’s exceptional talent detection skills.

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