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Defying urban legend that he was Duke-bound, had he gone to college instead of the NBA straight out of high school, Bryant said he was leaning toward North Carolina. "I love [Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski]," Bryant said. "The truth has to come out."
Why North Carolina? Vince Carter, a Tar Heel, was one of the top guards in the country at the time. "I want to play against him, every single day," Bryant said.
|Kobe Bryant stirred up discussion last week when he told Jimmy Kimmel he would have chosen UNC over Duke.|
Often times Duke fans wonder if Kobe Bryant had not gone directly to the NBA out of high school if he “maybe” would have attended Duke and been a part of that team.
“There’s no maybe about it,” Bryant says. “Every time I turn on the TV and see Cameron Indoor Stadium, see everybody in Krzyzewskiville and see the Crazies jumping up and down with the intensity and the building almost shaking, I wonder what it would have been like to play there with Corey [Maggette] and Elton [Brand] and all those guys."
In fact, Bryant would’ve been a junior on the 1999 team that featured two future National Players of the Year in Brand and Shane Battier along with Maggette, William Avery, Trajan Langdon and Chris Carrawell, among others.
Instead, Bryant entered the NBA via the No. 13 pick of the 1996 draft and went on to earn his first trophy as winner of the Gatorade Slam Dunk Championship at the 1997 All-Star Weekend. By 1998 he had started an All-Star game and by 1999, he had become the youngest player in NBA history named to an all-NBA team and in 2000, he was the youngest player ever to earn all-defense honors, as well. Ten years into his career he has won three NBA Championships and was also the MVP of the 2002 All-Star game.
But if you ask Coach K what it would’ve been like to coach Bryant in college, he responds by saying, “I don’t day dream. I have enough to think about with my current team than to think what might have been.”