Discovered a pretty damn cool story about Kobe Bryant regretting missing the March Madness experience over at USA Today. Check out what the Mamba had to say about the Madness:
“Every time March Madness comes around,” Bryant says, “I regret not being part of that.”
Starting in 2005, the NBA required U.S. players to be a year removed from high school and at least 19 to be eligible for the NBA draft. If that were the rule in 1996, when Bryant graduated from Lower Merion (Pa.) High School, he would have enrolled at Duke — probably.
“Obviously, if I had taken going to college more seriously, I probably would’ve gotten a lot more offers,” Bryant says. “I would’ve taken visits. … As it was, I didn’t even take one campus visit.”
He got along great with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whom he said was “persistent.” He played for him last summer in the Olympics. He also got a letter from then-North Carolina coach Dean Smith: “It basically said, ‘We’d love to have you in our program. But I know you’re not coming to college. I just want to wish you good luck in the future.’ ”
Bryant says an HBO Sports documentary, Battle for Tobacco Road: Duke vs. Carolina, “made me miss the experience more than anything. … Playing for (Krzyzewski) this summer, he was everything I thought he would’ve been.
Had Kobe gone to Duke, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have been “one and done” in the ACC tourney before being a round of 32 elimination in the Big Dance. Lucky for us he turned pro, allowing the Lakers to make a draft-day swap for the high school All-American from the City of Brotherly Love.