It takes but one person, one moment, one conviction, to start a ripple of change. For Kobe Paras it was his infamous dunk against Lebron James, way back 5 years ago. When Lebron visited Manila and during warmups, James decisively decided to block Kobe’s dunk. The crowd went ecstatic when the young high school kid and a son of a famous basketball legend in the Philippines went straight to the hoop and dunk the basket. The ripple of change started, as the crowd started donning him as the next basketball star and a possible NBA star in the future.
Kobe went to the US to continue his studies and the same time pursue not only his dreams but the hopes of a starving nation hungry for the first Filipino NBA star.
Kobe didn’t disappoint as 1st division colleges started recruiting him. Paras, committed to UCLA joining Lonzo Ball. However, UCLA rescinded his scholarship. Kobe signed with Creighton, which saw him limited minutes and playing sparingly on blowout games. Kobe got frustrated and transferred again to Cal State Northridge where he red shirted for a year. However, long before Kobe could play his first game with the Matadors, Paras declared he is going pro.
There is about 99.5 % that NBA teams would not even bother drafting Kobe in the draft. Maybe, that 5% would be those NBA teams who are marketers who want to exploit the vast Filipino basketball nation and decided to draft Kobe in the late second round. But it’s a very long shot to the moon. Kobe doesn’t belong to the one-and-done level, players like Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Taytum, Josh Jackson and a lot more are considered one-and-done. They are the type of players projected high in the draft that they only need a year in college to be eligible in the NBA. Kobe in his measly minutes in college isn’t even considered a good role player that fits right in every team rotation. Kobe has the athleticism but his skills set are becoming an epidemic in the US.
Kids his age and size can shoot, play defense and can dunk straight to the rim like Kobe. If he was given enough minutes in Creighton, maybe we could see a better version of him with his confidence soaring. But is he an NBA level player? At 20 years old he still can be. After declaring on his Instagram that he is turning pro, the hard work starts now. College wasn’t the right direction for Kobe. Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction. The road to the NBA is getting steeper, narrow and unforgiving for now. He could play in the G league, overseas or just go back and play in the Philippines. If you got the talent, no matter how small, big or whenever you are, NBA teams will find you.
It’s been such a hard road so far. A kid who dunked against the NBA’s best player (Lebron James), who was named to one of NBA’s fiercest competitor and all-time great (Kobe Bryant). With the hopes of a basketball-loving nation on his shoulder, Kobe tried so hard to live up to expectations. And sometimes it becomes too much for a 20 year old kid.
NBA is Kobe’s ultimate destination, however, this time it’s not the only option.
Beyond expectations and hopes, the kid named Kobe goes for his own destiny.