How Could One of Game's Greatest Players Not Receive a Single ROY Vote?

Published on February 4th, 2023 4:27 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Rookie of the Year award and one star player who did not get it.  In photo:  Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant was undoubtedly one of basketball's greatest players, with most fans having him somewhere in their top 5.

Bryant, however, was nowhere to be seen when it came to the voting for the 1996-97 Rookie of the Year award.

Michael Jordan won Rookie of the Year. LeBron James won Rookie of the Year.

Kobe Bryant didn't even receive ONE vote for Rookie of the Year in 1996-97, and he wasn't injured.

How could this have happened?


The 1996-97 voting for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award looked like this:

1. Allen Iverson, 44 First Place Votes
2. Stephon Marbury, 35 First Place Votes
3. Shareef Adbur-Rahim, 25 First Place Votes
4. Antoine Walker, 6 First Place Votes
5. Kerry Kittles, 5 First Place Votes

Kobe Bryant, who was selected #13 overall by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac, was nowhere to be seen.

Kobe Bryant, who played in 71 games in the 1996-97 regular season, was nowhere to be seen.


So what happened in 1996-97?

To start, the Los Angeles Lakers were a good basketball team, as they would finish the season with a record of 56-26.

The team was led by Shaquille O'Neal, Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel.

The team's coach, Del Harris, wasn't particularly interested in developing Kobe Bryant. Instead, he was focused on winning, and he felt that other players on the team gave the Lakers a better chance of winning.

This resulted in Bryant spending the majority of the 1996-97 regular season planted on the bench.

Bryant would play in 71 games in the 1996-97 regular season, and start in just 6 of them.

Kobe Bryant, who would develop into one of the game's greatest players, played just 15.5 minutes per game in 1996-97, averaging just 7.6 points/game.


Kobe Bryant, even after his retirement, would talk about the decision to bench him for the majority of the 1996-97 season, and the frustrations that mounted as a result.

Bryant, who had received so much hype after being traded to the Lakers, was forced to watch from the sidelines.

1997-98 would be a bit better for Bryant, though he would only start one game.

It wasn't until 1998-99 when Bryant would claim the role of starter, and the rest is history.

Rookie of the Year is one award that managed to elude Kobe Bryant, though even if he had been started in his rookie season, he would have been in tough against the likes of Iverson and Marbury, who both turned in phenomenal rookie campaigns.

Related Articles