Scoop B: With Kobe’s jerseys now retired, can we debate ’96 NBA Draft class vs. 2003 NBA Draft class?

The Los Angeles Lakers played inspired basketball on the night of Kobe Bryant’s jerseys (plural) retirement. Chris Carlson/AP

2003 NBA Draft Class member Jarvis Hayes checks in with Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson on Scoop B Radio and talks NBA Draft classes, Kobe and more. Press Play Below To Listen! 

Last night, the Los Angeles Lakers retired Kobe Bryant’s #8 and #24 jersey during a halftime ceremony at Staples Center. Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Bryant is a 5-time NBA champion, 18-time NBA All Star, holds a regular season MVP award, a NBA Slam Dunk Champion and became the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points.

Slam Magazine’s ’96 Draft cover. Photo Credit: Ball Is Life

Bryant also holds the distinction of being drafted in the 1996 NBA Draft, an exclusive club.

Add Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Marcus Camby, Jermaine O’Neal, Antoine Walker, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Peja Stojakovic to that list.

“Kobe was the last one to finish, but you’re starting to see most of the guys finish with Hall of Fame careers,” Shareef Abdur-Rahim, a member of that class told me on Scoop B Radio

The 2003 NBA Draft class was also impressive. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh headlined it.

So who’s draft class is better?

“I think it’s really difficult sometimes to rank eras,” said Abdur-Rahim. “But I guess because I was in the 1996 draft, I rank it the best.”

Jarvis Hayes was drafted tenth by the Washington Wizards in the 2003 NBA Draft. He shares similar sentiments. “Well the book is still being written on my class,” Hayes said on Scoop B Radio.

“So you have to put it up there. But that 1996 draft class was loaded. I think my class is up there, but right now I would give a slight nod to the ’96 class until the rest of the guys from my class finish up their careers.”

The 1984 NBA Draft class was loaded with studs: Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon and John Stockton.

Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Photo Credit: SI

While none of those guys are currently playing, they left impact on the NBA. Charles Barkley is running the TV world Thursday nights on TNT and MJ is majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

MJ also still has kids waiting out in the winter cold for Air Jordan sneaker releases.

No doubt ’84 impacted Kobe, Wade, ‘Melo and others.

But hey, Kobe does have a one up! Not even MJ who wore three numbers while a member of the Chicago Bulls ( 12, 23 and 45) has multiple numbers hanging in the rafters at the United Center.

But Bryant does at Staples Center!

 

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About Brandon Robinson

Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson is a managing editor and columnist at RESPECT Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @ScoopB and Instagram: @Scoop_B. As a 12 year old, he was a Nets reporter from 1997-1999, co-hosting a show called Nets Slammin' Planet with former New Jersey Net Albert King and Nets play-by-play man Chris Carrino. He's also been a writer and radio host at CBS and a staff writer at The Source Magazine. He's a graduate of both Eastern University and Hofstra University. You can catch him daily on the Scoop B Radio Podcast. Visit ScoopBRadio.com to listen. For inquiries and to contact Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson visit ScoopB.com