On Nov. 3, 1996, Kobe Bryant made his NBA debut in a 91-85 Los Angeles Lakers win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Coming off the bench, Bryant played only six minutes and recorded a rebound and a block.
18-year-old Kobe Bryant made his NBA debut 24 years ago today.- Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 3, 2020
It was the first of 11 scoreless games during his rookie season. He finished his career with a 60-point performance & 33,643 career points (4th most in NBA history) 💜💛🐍 pic.twitter.com/OJl3QexfzL
It was the beginning of a rookie campaign that saw Bryant earn All-Rookie Second Team honours despite averaging just 7.6 points while playing in under 16 minutes per game. Early on in his career, Bryant had to earn his place in the team's rotation. He would quickly do that and then some, becoming an All-Star starter in his second season despite still being a full-time reserve.
He would go on to become one of the greatest players in franchise history as he donned the Lakers' purple-and-gold for 20 historic years, retiring as the franchise's all-time leader in numerous statistical categories, including games and minutes played, total points, 3-point field goals, free throws and steals.
Bryant, who is set to be posthumously inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in the coming year, is fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 33,643 points. Over the course of his 20-year career, he earned a record 18 All-Star selections in addition to 15 All-NBA selections, 12 All-Defensive Team selections, won five NBA titles, two Finals MVPs, two scoring titles and was named league MVP in 2008.
Bryant's debut headlines a group of other notable players that also played their first NBA game on Nov. 3:
- In 1989, B.J. Armstrong (Chicago Bulls), Vlade Divac (Los Angeles Lakers), Tim Hardaway Sr. (Golden State Warriors), Glen Rice (Miami Heat) and Shawn Kemp (Seattle SuperSonics).
- In 1990, future Hall of Famer Gary Payton played his first NBA game as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics.
- In 1995, Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves), Rasheed Wallace (Washington Bullets) and Jerry Stackhouse (Philadelphia 76ers).
- In 1999, Metta World Peace and Elton Brand made their debuts for the Chicago Bulls.
- In 2004, Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic) and Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers).
The Billups-Iverson trade
On Nov. 3, 2008, two games into the season, the Detroit Pistons traded Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Allen Iverson.
A noteworthy trade in NBA history, it played a huge role in how successful either team was in the years after the deal.
Billups, who was an integral part of Detroit's six straight Conference Finals appearances from 2003 to 2008, made an instant impact in Denver. He played the key point guard role, leading the Nuggets to the Conference Finals in 2009 - the franchise's third and the first since 1985. The Nuggets won at least 50 games in every one of Billups' three full seasons (2008-11).
Meanwhile, Detroit moved in the opposite direction. In 2009, Iverson's only year with the franchise, the Pistons were swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 2009 playoffs. That was one of only three postseason appearances made by the franchise since 2008.
LeBron puts on a show in DC
Coming off four straight losses, LeBron James single-handedly led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 130-122 win over the Washington Wizards with a masterful performance. Playing 42 minutes, he finished with 57 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks.
The 57 points, which was LeBron's 10th career game with at least 50 points, tied the Cavaliers' single-game scoring record.
Other notable events on Nov. 3
- In 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored 72 points in a 127-115 loss against the Lakers. The points tally is the fifth-highest in NBA history and was part of his NBA record 126-game streak where he scored at least 20 points.
- In 1989, the Portland Trail Blazers retired Bill Walton's No. 32. Also in 1989, the Timberwolves made their NBA debut against the SuperSonics.
- In 1995, the NBA's two Canadian franchises - Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors - made their NBA debuts with wins. The Raptors defeated the New Jersey Nets 94-79 in front of more than 33,000 fans at SkyDome while the Grizzlies defeated the Trail Blazers 92-80 in Portland.
- In 1999, the Lakers debuted their new home arena - the Staples Center - by hosting the Vancouver Grizzlies.
Game-winning buzzer-beaters on Nov. 3
Brandon Jennings vs. Cleveland Cavaliers in 2012
Mike Gminski vs. Indiana Pacers in 1984
David Thompson vs. San Antonio Spurs in 1982
Marques Johnson vs. Chicago Bulls in 1979
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