Kobe Bryant's NBA Career: First Game Wildly Different Than Last

Kobe Bryant was only 18 years old in his NBA debut in 1996.

BySusanna Kim
April 14, 2016, 11:56 AM

— -- Last night, Kobe Bryant played his final game in the NBA. He went out with a swoosh--or a few dozen--scoring 60 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz.

Bryant's spectacular last game was as different as can be from his scoreless NBA debut nearly 20 years ago. The 37-year old star's career has been a long and memorable one for the NBA.

In 1996, Bryant was drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets, then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

PHOTO: Los Angeles Lakers rookie Kobe Bryant is heckled by teammates as a television cameraman adjusts a microphone on his jersey for an interviewed during the Lakers Media Day at the Forum in Inglewood, California, Oct. 14, 1996.
Los Angeles Lakers rookie Kobe Bryant is heckled by teammates as a television cameraman adjusts a microphone on his jersey for an interviewed during the Lakers Media Day at the Forum in Inglewood, California, Oct. 14, 1996.
Chris Pizzello/AP Photo

Bryant was 18 years old and fresh out of high school in his first game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 3, 1996. Bryant played for only six minutes and didn't score any points, but the Lakers won. He did score a point two days later against the New York Knicks, when he played for a grand total of three minutes.

PHOTO: Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant looks for a teammate to pass to as Minnesota Timberwolves James Robinson looks on during Bryant's first game at the Forum in Inglewood, California, Nov. 3, 1996.
Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant looks for a teammate to pass to as Minnesota Timberwolves James Robinson looks on during Bryant's first game at the Forum in Inglewood, California, Nov. 3, 1996.
Michael Caulfield/AP Photo

Within a few years, he was part of the best franchise in the game. Along with fellow Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal, then led by coach Phil Jackson, Bryant would help the franchise win three consecutive championships between 2000 to 2002.

PHOTO: Los Angeles Lakers Shaquille O'Neal, right, flexes his arm as he polishes off his superman tattoo seated next to teammate Kobe Bryant during the fourth quarter of their blowout game against the Chicago Bulls, Feb. 1, 1998, in Inglewood, California.
Los Angeles Lakers Shaquille O'Neal, right, flexes his arm as he polishes off his superman tattoo seated next to teammate Kobe Bryant during the fourth quarter of their blowout game against the Chicago Bulls, Feb. 1, 1998, in Inglewood, California. O'Neal scored 24-points and Bryant scored 20-points to route the Bulls, 112-87.
Kevork Djansezian/AP Photo

Shaquille O'Neal and other NBA stars were among those who attended Bryant's last game at Staples Center, the current home of the Lakers after they left the Forum in 1999.

PHOTO: Kobe Bryant waves to the crowd as he is taken out of the game after scoring 60 points in his final game played against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center, April 13, 2016, in Los Angeles, California.
Kobe Bryant waves to the crowd as he is taken out of the game after scoring 60 points in his final game played against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center, April 13, 2016, in Los Angeles, California.
Harry How/Getty Images

“I knew coming into the night, I just didn’t want to play bad,” Bryant said during a news conference after his final game. “I just wanted to focus on the game. I had a little bit of nerves, but they were able to settle down.”

PHOTO: NBA Legend, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers hug after Bryant's final game, April 13, 2016, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
NBA Legend, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers hug after Bryant's final game, April 13, 2016, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

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