Kobe Bryant’s Predraft Workout Has Become Stuff of Lakers, and NBA, Legend

LOS ANGELES — Considering how much work it takes to leap from great to truly historic, a legend is made more than he is born.

Truth be told, the two are interconnected. A legend fits his field naturally, and all that work gets done because he simply loves doing it.

The romance of the story is rooted in the same place: He was meant to be this, to do this…and become that legend.

With how well and how long Kobe Bryant has played basketball, he is a natural.

It is too soon to go all sepia tone in rendering Bryant's career while he primes for yet another adversity-overcoming, critic-answering season. But Bryant's last chapter is unfolding, and the Lakers must plot their future and hunt their next headliner.

They have spent much of the past six months since Bryant last played, and especially the past two months, dedicated to draft preparation, angling for a high first-round pick who can be a true star.

The Lakers, so lame without an injured Bryant that they landed the No. 7 overall pick (their highest draft spot in 32 years), brought in high-end prospects they almost never get to work out in their home gym. They measured, studied and challenged them to gather as much intel as possible.

And then Jim Buss went up to former Kentucky forward Julius Randle after his workout a week ago, shook his hand and looked into his eyes. Mitch Kupchak did the same to former Arizona forward Aaron Gordon three days later. Maybe they saw something in those eyes that clicked, something that will make this draft a certainty instead of guesswork, something so undeniable that the moment will someday become memorable.

Only one time in Lakers history did that happen.

It was Jerry West's predraft workout of Bryant in 1996.

Michael Cooper remembers a lot more than most do.

Bryant's workout quietly happened so long ago—and wasn't necessarily desti...

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