1996–97 Los Angeles Lakers season

The 1996–97 NBA season was the Los Angeles Lakers' 49th season in the National Basketball Association, and 37th in the city of Los Angeles. During the offseason, the Lakers signed free agent All-Star center Shaquille O'Neal to a seven-year, $120 million deal, and acquired high school star Kobe Bryant from the Charlotte Hornets, who selected him with the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA draft. Other offseason acquisitions included signing former Lakers guard Byron Scott, and free agents Jerome Kersey and Sean Rooks. In January, they traded Cedric Ceballos back to the Phoenix Suns for Robert Horry, who won two championships with the Houston Rockets. O'Neal finished fourth in the league in scoring averaging 26.2 points per game, but played just 51 games due to a knee injury.

During the final month of the season in a game against the Dallas Mavericks on April 6, the Lakers held the Mavs to just two points in the third quarter in an 87–80 win. It was the fewest points in a quarter of a game in NBA history. The Lakers finished second in the Pacific Division with a 56–26 record. O'Neal and Eddie Jones were both selected for the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. However, O'Neal did not play due to injury. Bryant was selected to the All-Rookie Second Team. He also won the Slam Dunk Contest during the All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.

In the first round of the postseason, the Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in four games. However, in the semifinals, they lost in five games to the Utah Jazz. Following the season, Scott went overseas and signed with the Greek Basket League giants Panathinaikos for the 1997–98 season, while Kersey signed as a free agent with the Seattle SuperSonics.

Draft picks

Before he was chosen as the 13th overall draft pick by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996, the 17-year-old Bryant had made a lasting impression on then-Lakers general manager Jerry West, who immediately foresaw potential in Bryant's basketball ability during pre-draft workouts. He went on to state that Bryant's workouts against former Lakers players and then assistant coaches Michael Cooper, and Larry Drew were the best he had ever seen. Immediately after the draft, Bryant expressed that he did not wish to play for the Hornets and wanted to play for the Lakers instead. Fifteen days later, West traded his starting center, Vlade Divac to the Hornets for the young Kobe Bryant.

Roster

Roster listing
1996–97 Los Angeles Lakers roster
PlayersCoaches
Pos.No.NameHeightWeightDOB (YYYY-MM-DD)From
PF43Blount, Corie6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)240 lb (109 kg)1969–01–04Cincinnati
SG8Bryant, Kobe6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)205 lb (93 kg)1978–08–23Lower Merion HS
PF41Campbell, Elden6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)215 lb (98 kg)1968–07–23Clemson
PG2Fisher, Derek6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)210 lb (95 kg)1974–08–09Arkansas-Little Rock
SF5Horry, Robert6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)220 lb (100 kg)1970–08–25Alabama
SG6Jones, Eddie6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)190 lb (86 kg)1971–10–20Temple
SF12Kersey, Jerome6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)215 lb (98 kg)1962–06–26Longwood University
C40Knight, Travis6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)235 lb (107 kg)1974–09–13Connecticut
PF7Krystkowiak, Larry6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)220 lb (100 kg)1964–09–23Montana
SG24McCloud, George Injured6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)205 lb (93 kg)1967–05–27Florida State
C34O'Neal, Shaquille7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)325 lb (147 kg)1972–03–06LSU
C45Rooks, Sean6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)250 lb (113 kg)1969–09–09Arizona
SG4Scott, Byron6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)195 lb (88 kg)1961–03–28Arizona State
PG9Van Exel, Nick6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)170 lb (77 kg)1971–11–27Cincinnati
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

Roster
Last transaction: 1997–02–24

Regular season

Kobe's rookie season

During his first season, Bryant mostly came off the bench behind guards Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel. Initially, he played limited minutes, but as the season continued, he began to see some more playing time. He earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan-favorite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest.

Season standings

Record vs. opponents

Game log

Playoffs

West First Round

(4) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (5) Portland Trail Blazers Last Playoff Meeting: 1992 Western Conference First Round (Portland won 3–1)

West Conference Semifinals

(1) Utah Jazz vs. (4) Los Angeles Lakers Last Playoff Meeting: 1988 Western Conference Semifinals (Los Angeles won 4-3)

Player statistics

Legend
  GPGames played  GS Games started MPG Minutes per game
 FG% Field-goal percentage 3P% 3-point field-goal percentage FT% Free-throw percentage
 RPG Rebounds per game APG Assists per game SPG Steals per game
 BPG Blocks per game PPG Points per game

Awards and records

Transactions

Uses material from the Wikipedia article 1996–97 Los Angeles Lakers season, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.