At 17 years old, Kobe Bryant was scrimmaging against professional athletes and Philadelphia area college athletes who were on their way to the league.
While he impressed in those scrimmages, Jerry Stackhouse stated that Bryant wasn’t a fan of passing the basketball.
Stackhouse spent the first 2 years of his career with the Philadelphia 76ers before he got traded to the Pistons.
He wanted to clear the air about the stories of those scrimmages that turned into something that it wasn’t over the years.
“What happened with Kobe was nobody really wanted to play with Kobe,” he said on The Woj Pod. “[Former La Salle star and NBA player] Lionel Simmons, you used to always see him pulling Kobe to the side, like, ‘Man, you gotta pass the ball! You gotta learn how to do this!’ Because the older guys were from Philly. … These stories kind of take on a life of their own. And yes, Kobe had some good days scoring the ball, because he could handle it so well. But he had tunnel vision at that point. You had pickup games, sometimes he didn’t even get picked up.”
“But again, because he’s so been great since this, these stories go back of ‘Oh, he beat Stackhouse one-on-one.’ Come on, man. Me at 20 years old, can you imagine a 17-year-old beating me consistently? I’d have hurt him first, real talk. Just physically, that could never happen to me. Did we play one-on-one? Yes. Did he beat me, did he maybe win a game? Yes. Did he consistently beat Jerry Stackhouse at 20 years old when he was 17? Hell no. I’m putting an end to that story. … Was he super talented and everyone saw great potential in him? Yes, but those scenarios … of Kobe Bryant, they’re a little bit of a different story when you go talk to people that were actually in the gym.”
The Lower Merion High School graduate went into the NBA, but only averaged 15 minutes a game during his rookie year.
“This kid was unbelievable,” he said. “Just his ball handling ability … he grew up, obviously, emulating Michael Jordan.”
“I vividly remember the old heads from Philadelphia,” Stackhouse said, “[they’re] like, ‘Come on, man, you gotta pass the ball! That ain’t how you gotta play!'”
As we know, he would go on to make 18 All-Star Games, win five NBA championships and become one of the best players of his era.
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