Kobe Bryant played at TD Garden in Boston for the last time in his career yesterday and it was quite something.
The Los Angeles Lakers star received cheers and applause from a crowd that has normally booed him to the rafters, with Kobe chants echoing throughout the arena at times last night.
However, this could have been so very different and a much more regular occurence had the Celtics made the move to draft the Lower Merion star back in 1996 - which was apparently a real possibility.
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Kobe the Celtic?
According to a story from Baxter Holmes of ESPN, Kobe was almost drafted by the Celtics in 1996 - with the Massachussetts franchise seriously considering using their sixth overall pick on the Philadelphia native.
Holmes spoke to the Celtic’s former head coach and executive vice president/director of basketball operations, M.L. Carr, who gave a fantastic anecdote about Kobe with the Celtics in the buildup to the Draft.
"When I tell you this — and I don’t like to say a lot of good things about the Lakers — but I am absolutely telling you this straight-up: [Kobe Bryant] was unbelievable in the interview,” Carr said.
Carr wasn't joking, Kobe apparently had an incredible knowledge about the Celtics that was probably better than most of the players who were on the team at the time.
Unfortunately, the Celtics thought Kobe was a risk because of his tender age and lack of real experience in the men's world of the NBA, despite the fact that he aced all the drills that they put him through.
“We weren’t sure if it was going to translate with Kobe to the next level,” Carr says. “Well, guess what — that’s the understatement of the century!”
The NBA would be so different right now if Kobe had become a Boston Celtic. Instead, he landed with the Lakers, and the rest is history.