UPDATE: We’ve been trying to get a confirmation of this quote from a source other than “@2014MrBasket.” The closest we’ve come is this tweet from Alex Kennedy… who also quotes Mr. Basket. For now, take this with a grain of salt. Okay, original article below:
Kobe Bryant will likely pass Michael Jordan on the NBA’s all-time scoring list this season, but that’s not the only history the Black Mamba is looking to alter. Bryant reportedly made a comment about Andrew Wiggins — the Cleveland Cavalier who will reportedly become a Minnesota Timberwolf next week — that was half-compliment, half-revisionist take on his own journey from the Charlotte Hornets to the L.A. Lakers in 1996.
Here’s the quote:
Kobe Bryant: “ Cleveland is making the same mistake that Charlotte made with me ”.
— 2014MrBasket (@2014MrBasket) August 14, 2014
The implication here is that the Cavs are giving up on a young, talented wing player with the potential for greatness in exchange for a proven commodity in Kevin Love. It’s an incredible compliment for Wiggins, but Kobe’s situation with Charlotte was a little different than the one playing out in Cleveland.
If you don’t remember how Bryant ended up a Laker, here’s a recap via a 2007 New York Times article:
In 1996, Bryant, a teenager exiting high school for the N.B.A., was not the first pick, but he exuded self-importance when he refused to play anywhere but Hollywood.
With the 13th selection, with a deal to trade Bryant to Los Angeles in pocket, Charlotte chose him. But there was a point where it looked as if the Lakers’ Vlade Divac would retire rather than take part in a trade that would send him to Charlotte for Bryant.
Couldn’t Bryant be a Hornet? Could he grow to love Southern sweet tea?
“That is an impossibility,” Bryant’s agent, Arn Tellem, said at the time. “There are no ifs. It would not happen. He is going to be a Laker, and that’s the only team he’s playing for.”
Bryant never wanted to play in Charlotte. Or in Sacramento, or Indiana, or anywhere else. The Hornets essentially chose for the Lakers in exchange for the rights to Divac (who was, coincidentally, a big, talented white guy, like Love). The Hornets never really had a choice. Meanwhile, Wiggins has said he wants to play for “whichever team wants me,” and it turns out the Wolves want Wiggins more than the Cavs.
This was a nice sentiment from an NBA legend. But don’t think we forgot how your situation played out, Kobe — and be glad you and your agent pulled that move in a social media-less era, pre-The Decision, when you would have been run out of town on a rail for refusing to play for anyone but the Lakers.