Says Michael Lee on The Athletic:

Kobe Bryant was about to enter his senior season at Lower Merion High School, what would be his last as an amateur, but he was already a regular participant in informal workouts with the Sixers.

John Lucas, then the 76ers’ coach and general manager, had extended the opportunity to Bryant to train before and after practices, after seeing him dominate his preps peers — and all but one prospect in individual workouts leading up to the 1995 NBA draft.

But on one afternoon, Lucas was concerned for Bryant’s well-being.

Bryant’s informal workouts would often find him paired up individually against 76ers players. This time, the opponent was Vernon Maxwell, a hot-tempered, nearly 30-year-old, seven-year veteran who was once famously ejected for getting overly physical with Michael Jordan. Playing to 10, Bryant and Maxwell were tied at 9-9 when Lucas and his staff had to call it a draw.

“I thought they were about to fight,” Lucas, the current player development coach of the Houston Rockets, recalled in a telephone interview. “One of my coaches was like, ‘Jesus Christ, Luc, this boy gon’ be something. He ain’t scared.’ I said, ‘I already know.’ And at that time Vernon was ‘Mad Max.’ But I said, ‘Kobe are you nuts?’”

No, he was just Philly.


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