Though originally drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft, Hall of Famer Jerry West and Kobe Bryant’s agent Arn Tellem pulled strings and pushed buttons in the weeks leading up the draft and during the picks leading up to Bryant’s name being called. In the end, Charlotte would trade Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac.
Bryant would spend his next 20 years of life (more than the 17 years spent prior to June 1996) a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. When he walked off the Staples Center hardwood in uniform for the last time in April, he left the game a 5-time champion, 2-time Finals MVP, 18-time All Star, 4-time All Star Game MVP, and 11-time member of the All-NBA First Team, among a laundry list of accolades. Numbers alone don’t do justice to the true impact Bryant has made on basketball, the NBA, and Los Angeles. Nonetheless, we will attempt to do so here.
The Kobe Bryant Impact Then and Now
2.6 Overnight rating of Bryant’s final game, the highest ever rating for a broadcast on ESPN2
$1.2M Kobe merchandise Staples Center sold on April 13, 2016, as Bryant played his final game – a new single-day world record for any arena
$105M Nike’s sales of Bryant’s sneakers in 2015
$323M Bryant’s salary earnings over his career, the second most ever (Kevin Garnett tops out at $332M)
$680M Bryant’s total earnings while playing in the NBA, the most by a team athlete, only surpassed by Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher, and Floyd Mayweather
$2.6B Value of the Lakers today compared to $200M the year Bryant was drafted
$4B The value of the Lakers’ 20-year TV deal with Time Warner, which pushes annual profits north of $100M for the organization
Sources: ESPN, Forbes, Variety