Kobe said he was leaning North Carolina over Duke for college

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It has long been assumed that if Kobe Bryant had not opted for the NBA and instead headed to college — remember he went pro long before the ridiculous one-and-done rule — that he was headed to Duke. To this day Bryant has a great relationship with and respect for Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Not so fast, Kobe said Thursday night at the “Kobe Up Close Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel” event in Los Angeles, raising money for Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Foundation (which fights homelessness). Here’s the quotes, as reported by Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.

Defying the urban legend that he was Duke-bound, had he gone to college instead of the NBA straight out of high school, Bryant said he was leaning toward North Carolina. “I love [Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski],” Bryant said. “The truth has to come out.”

Why North Carolina? Vince Carter, a Tar Heel, was one of the top guards in the country at the time. “I want to play against him, every single day,” Bryant said.

There’s also how Kobe has modeled himself after Michael Jordan who went to North Carolina (and whose private plane is still Carolina blue).

This is all kind of moot, Kobe went pro, Jerry West convinced John Calipari (then the Nets head coach) not to draft him and the Lakers traded Vlade Divac to Charlotte for Kobe in a pre-arranged deal on draft night. The rest is history.