This brash 17-year-old kid suddenly took the Lakers by storm. He performed no-look passes that resembled Magic Johnson. He made acrobatic shots that mirrored Michael Jordan. He threw down dunks with such fierceness and athleticism that they appeared similar to Dominique Wilkins.
Kobe Bryant’s the name, and he’s become a pretty familiar part of Lakers lore since then. He has five NBA championships, two Finals MVPs and a fourth-place standing on the league’s all-time scoring list. The NBA’s recently released video above showing Bryant’s top plays in his rookie season 17 years ago helps bring everything full circle.
One, it brings Lakers fans back at a time when buzz surrounded Bryant’s potential only to be met with promising plays that made the reel. Second, it’s chilling to see how Bryant duplicated to some degree the athleticism he once had last season despite playing at 34 years old with a whole lot of basketball mileage. Third, the video shows a early snapshot of Bryant’s game, which has since matured and evolved into the complete package featuring footwork, post-moves, dribble-drive penetration, superior defensive reads and a stronger balance in tempering his thirst for scoring.
As Bryant enters this season rehabbing a torn left Achilles tendon, the chapter has yet to be written on how he will finish out his career. As he’s always done, including this video, one can only wonder if Bryant can still provide a few more surprises.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org