1996 NBA Draft: Kobe Bryant and Vitaly Potapenko
Kobe Bryant just passed Shaquille O’Neal to become 5th All Time on the NBA’s scoring list. This got me thinking about when it all started for Kobe: The 1996 NBA Draft. Kobe went 13th overall to the Charlotte Hornets and was taken one pick after the Cleveland Cavaliers took Vitaly Potapenko. Lets take a look at what TNT had to say about each player when they were drafted:
- David Stern did not seem to enjoy trying to pronounce “Potapenko”. I’m not confident that he even said that correctly. How pissed would you be if on the biggest day of your life the commissioner mispronounced your last name.
- Wright State has a long and storied history of producing NBA players. The only other player that played in the NBA from there was Bill Edwards and he only played 3 games and 44 total minutes.
- “The Ukraine Train” is a fantastic nickname. In the event that his NBA career didn’t pan out he has a very easy segue into the porn industry.
- “Double and Triple teamed a lot”. Really, triple teamed? I highly doubt that. He’s Vitaly Potapenko, not Wilt Chamberlain.
- One of his weaknesses is “Not a Leaper”. What the hell does that have to do with anything? He’s a tall white dude, of course he can’t jump.
- Kobe was taken 13th overall. Here are some players that were selected before him: Kerry Kittles, Lorenzen Wright, Samaki Walker, Erick Dampier, Todd Fuller. Nice work NBA scouts.
- Kobe was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers on draft day for Vlade Divac. This has to go down in the “I’d like to use my mulligan” Hall of Fame. Vlade only played two season in Charlotte where he averaged 12.6 ppg and 9 boards and 10.4 ppg and 8 boards. Those numbers aren’t too shabby until you consider that you traded Kobe Bryant for him. Special Kudos to Vlade for his staring role in “The Professional“. He was great.
- “Jerry West told me that greatness lies ahead for this man”. Very impressive that West called his shot, backed it up by trading for Kobe, and the rest is history.
- “What you like best about him is that he makes everyone else around him a better player”. Ehhh…not so sure about this one.