That Time 17-Year-Old Kobe Bryant Dropped 36 Points in NBA Summer League


(Photo: Getty)

Breakout performances at NBA summer league don't really count for much.

Sure the last 10 summer league MVPs include Blake Griffin, John Wall, and Damian Lillard. But here are the other seven recipients: Jerryd Bayless, Nate Robinson, Josh Selby (shared it with Lillard), Randy Foye (at age 28), Jonas Valanciunas, Glen Rice Jr., and the venerable Kyle Anderson.

And it goes the other way. Here's how the top three picks of the 2016 NBA Draft are shooting so far in this year's summer season:

Ben Simmons – 37 percent.

Brandon Ingram – 31.6 percent

Jaylen Brown – 32.1 percent

Not from three. From the field.

The summer league is essentially a sequence of glorified pickup games, with teams made up often of absolute strangers playing with zero plan in place. Some players thrive in this environment, other don't. But playing well in summer league seems to have very little correlation with how good a player is in the NBA.

That is, unless you're a 17-year-old, as Kobe Bryant was back in 1996.

Not long after being drafted into the NBA and taking Brandy to prom, the now-retired Los Angeles Lakers legend played in what was then called the Summer Pro League.

In one of those performances, he dropped 36 points on the Phoenix Suns' summer squad.