What if Kobe Bryant went to college?

In a sign that this marks the beginning of a long offseason for the Lakers, Time Warner Cable SportsNet has started a new creative idea on their Access SportsNet show called the “What If” game.

After all, there’s only so many times we can go into the importance of resigning Dwight Howard, speculating on Pau Gasol’s future and the struggles the Lakers face with acquiring new players because of their bloated payroll. So instead, TWC host Andy Adler posted this interesting question Wednesday night on the show: what if Kobe Bryant had gone to college? He’s stated publicly that he would’ve played at Duke for coach Mike Krzyzewski. So what would’ve happened with his first — and only – season with the Blue Devils?

TWC analyst Dave Miller argued that in addition to Bryant winning an NCAA championship, the Philadelphia 76ers surely would’ve drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1997 draft instead of Keith Van Horn. 710 ESPN’s John Ireland wasn’t buying it. After all, the Charlotte Bobcats drafted Bryant with the 13th pick and traded his rights to the Lakers for starting center Vlade Divac. Only former Lakers general manager Jerry West was the only one with the foresight to draft Bryant right away.

I’m with Ireland on this one. Perhaps it would’ve been more difficult for the Logo to secure Bryant considering the extra attention on the college basketball’s most prized player. But this being the Lakers, there’s no way they’d sit on their laurels and allow Bryant to become a Sixer for life. After all, Bryant grew up a Lakers fan in Italy anyway. Simply put, their partnership would’ve become inevitable, even if it became a few years delayed.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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