A new book – Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty by Jeff Pearlman – recounts the bravado with which basketball legend Kobe Bryant, then a rookie straight out of high school, introduced himself to his teammates at their first practice in the fall of 1996, writes Stephen Beslic for BasketballNetwork.net.
One part of the book describes how coach Del Harris asked each player to stand up and introduce himself to the rest of the group.
“What’s up? I’m Shaq. Let’s do this,” said Shaquille O’Neal, who had joined the team as a free agent after spending four seasons with the Orlando Magic.
“Hey. I’m Derek Fisher. Rookie. From little ol’ Arkansas. Ready to get to work.”
“Nick Van Exel. Fourth year here.”
“Eddie Jones, I’m from Florida. Went to Temple.”
Then came Kobe, who had just turned 18 years old.
“Yo, I’m Kobe. Kobe Bryant. I’m from PA — went to Lower Merion High School, dominated everything. I just want y’all to know, nobody’s gonna punk me. I’m not gonna let anyone in the NBA punk me. So be warned.”
Considering what followed – five championships, 18 All-Star appearances, an MVP award, and a legacy of one of the greatest players of all time – one might view Kobe’s intro to his teammates as the perfect harbinger of his career.
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