The Celtics nearly drafted Kobe Bryant in 1996 because of his immense talent and impressive knowledge of the franchise’s history, but ultimately passed him up, not wanting to take a chance on a 17-year-old coming out of high school, Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com writes in an interesting read. Boston, of course, drafted Antoine Walker — who went on to have a solid career — with the sixth pick that year while Bryant fell to No. 13.
“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,” former Celtics head coach and executive vice president/director of basketball operations M.L. Carr told Holmes. “He was the best interview that I’ve ever been a part of. Kobe knew the league as well as anyone. He knew the Celtics from a historical standpoint. He knew the Celtics probably better than most Celtics did at 17 years old.”
Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:
- Knicks small forward Cleanthony Early, who will likely be out three months after getting shot early this morning, was a logical candidate to be included in a trade for a point guard, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News tweets. Early has not been a fixture in the Knicks’ rotation this season. He has scored only seven points in 10 appearances this season.
- Bismack Biyombo views the Raptors, the team he signed a two-year deal with in July, as the perfect fit for him in an interview on the team’s website. “Obviously, going back to the draft, they were trying to draft me here so it feels like it was supposed to happen and it finally happened,” Biyombo said. “I just feel like it’s a great opportunity for me and I’m thankful for it and I thank God for it and obviously the organization and the coaches for giving me an opportunity to be here and help the team grow which is something everybody is looking forward to and I look forward to something special.”
- Marcus Smart‘s development will have the most profound impact among the Celtics‘ young players on Boston’s reconstruction project, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald opines. Smart, 21, is widely considered one of the top young defenders in the league, as Bulpett notes.