Kobe dreamed of dueling Vince Carter

By declaring for the 1996 NBA draft straight out of Philadelphia’s Lower Merion High School, Kobe Bryant missed out on one of the great rites of passage for top-rated schoolboy basketball players — the never-ending, dramatic, infuriating recruiting saga.

So he decided to retroactively start one between North Carolina and Duke for his hypothetical services. He told Jimmy Kimmel Thursday. that, contrary to popular mythology, he would not have gone to play for his buddy Mike Krzyzewski. Rather, he would have gone to North Carolina for the purpose of terrorizing Vince Carter.

"I wanted to play against him every single day," Bryant said.

Now, those two players’ careers have taken divergent paths. Bryant will go down among the greatest players of all time and Carter will go down as the superstar that never quite was, a once-thrilling blend of size and athleticism who spent most of his career lounging around at the 3-point line catapulting guarded jump shots like a bearded Sam Perkins.

But we didn’t know that at the time. Although you do get the impression Bryant smelled it, don’t you? He wasn’t gonna go to UNC expecting to lose that battle.

But in case you forgot just how fun Carter was in his day, enjoy: