Hornets trading Kobe Bryant to Lakers changed the course of NBA history
NBA 

Kobe Bryant was a Los Angeles Lakers icon for a generation, but things could have gone very differently on his draft day in 1996.

The Charlotte Hornets selected Bryant with the 13th overall pick but immediately traded him to the Lakers in exchange for center Vlade Divac.

Bryant, who died in a helicopter accident Sunday, would go on to spend his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships.

It was a monumental summer in basketball history, as the Lakers would sign free agent Shaquille O'Neal just a few weeks later.

"Charlotte never wanted me," Bryant said in 2015. "[Hornets coach Dave] Cowens told me he didn't want me. It wasn't a question of me even playing [in Charlotte]. It wasn't a question of me even playing [in Charlotte]. They had a couple of guards already, a couple small forwards already. So it wasn't like I would be off the bench much."

Just 17 years old coming out of Lower Merion High School, Bryant used the trade as fuel for the rest of his career.

"I knew who Dave Cowens was and [was] pretty excited [to play for him]. Then I was like, 'Oh, all right.' I quickly transitioned from smiley kid to killer instinct."

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