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Video: Jerry West discusses the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant

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Jerry West, the former Lakers star and architect of six championship-winning teams, recently sat down at his home with Times reporter Broderick Turner to discuss Kobe Bryant as the Lakers legend’s posthumous induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame approached.

West engineered a draft-day trade with Charlotte in 1996 to acquire Bryant, who was just out of high school, a bold move that cost the Lakers popular center Vlade Divac. West knew that Bryant would not be available when the Lakers drafted at No. 24.

“You see thousands of players in your life,” West says, in the video above, of talent evaluators like himself. “Everyone says if you can draft one of them [like Kobe] … you never many times get in position to draft one of them.”

West knew that, at 17 years old, Bryant was worth the risk.

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“When Kobe was here in town, he worked out twice,” West says. “I said there’s no way that we have a chance to get him. There’s no way. And, as it turned out. … He should have been the No. 1 pick in the draft. He was that good.”

Bryant, though, slid down the draft board, which allowed West to offer the Hornets the one player they needed the most: a center like Divac.

Who did West land at No. 24? Derek Fisher. The Lakers had their backcourt of the future put together in one night.


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