Actually, it is true. The Hornets drafted Kobe No. 13 overall in the 1996 NBA draft and traded him three weeks later for Vlade Divac. The trade was supposedly worked out before the draft, but how did Kobe and the Lakers ensure that no team in the first 12 spots would take the high schooler? The answer is they manipulated the situation. I recently watched Showtime’s “Kobe Bryant’s Muse” as well as ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Sole Man” about shoe legend Sonny Vaccaro, and both touched on how Kobe became a Laker. In the Showtime film, Bryant reveals that the Lakers were his favorite team growing up. He wanted to play for them and be their next star. In “Sole Man,” Vaccaro, who signed Bryant to an endorsement deal with Adidas and was instrumental in Kobe’s jump to the pros, acknowledges that they wanted Kobe to play for the Lakers. He says they even created a rumor that Kobe would go play pro ball in Italy to dissuade teams from drafting him. Case in point: West confirmed that Bryant’s agent, Arn Tellem, warned the former New Jersey Nets that Bryant did not want to play for them. The Nets used their No. 8 pick on Kerry Kittles. West also reported that Bryant’s parents told several teams he did not want to play near his Philadelphia hometown. Jerry West, Kobe Bryant fondly recall his pre-draft workout with LA Lakers How Kobe Bryant manipulated his way to Lakers on draft day Kobe Bryant and the draft day trade that changed NBA history NBA Draft Flashback: How did so many teams pass on Kobe Bryant?