Kobe Bryant is renowned for his inner-drive and competitive fire that has kept him among the league's elite for nearly two decades. The man dubbed as the 'Black Mamba' has overcome nearly every obstacle in his way throughout his professional career, reaching inside for fuel when, at times, it may have seemed like he had little left to prove.
Every slight or insult can be made into motivation in the mind of the Mamba. From disparaging comments from his competition to being ranked lower than he would like on ESPN's list of the league's best; Bryant remembers almost everything, and he has made a career out of proving people wrong. Even to this day, Kobe looks to prove wrong the doubters who say that he will be able to come back from his various injury issues.
Thus, it was not super surprising to learn that the sure-fire Hall-of-Famer and former Lower Merion standout star still harbors a grudge against the organization that had an opportunity to make him the top pick in the 1996 NBA Draft.
"I was really upset that the Sixers didn't take me number one in '96," Bryant recently revealed to The Washington Post.
The Sixers, of course, famously selected Allen Iverson first overall in that storied 1996 Draft. At that point, Iverson was the more proven player, coming out of collegiate basketball powerhouse Georgetown, as opposed to Bryant who was a prep-to-pros prospect.
Iverson went on to have a Hall-of-Fame-caliber career with the 7-6, leading the franchise to its most recent Finals appearance in 2001. Despite Iverson's success however, Bryant still feels slightly scorned by his hometown team, due largely to his proximity to the program.
"I was upset because I was in their backyard," he said of the Sixers. "I was a little bitter about that. Still am."
Kobe Bryant holding on to a grudge? Shocking.
Bryant has publicly stated his respect for the man that the Sixers selected instead of him several times, but that doesn't mean he can't continue to use the snub as a major motivator.
"I'm a competitor, right? They viewed Allen [Iverson] as being a better player than me, so that was something that always fueled me."
Twelve other teams passed on Bryant in 1996 before Charlotte selected him, only to trade him to Los Angeles.
For a man whose career seemed like a constant personal vendetta, it is interesting that the Sixers served as the original fuel to the fire.