As a rookie in 1996–97, Bryant mostly came off the bench behind guards Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel. At the time he became the youngest player ever to play in an NBA game (18 years, 72 days; a record since broken by Jermaine O'Neal and former teammate Andrew Bynum), and also became the youngest NBA starter ever (18 years, 158 days). Initially, Bryant played limited minutes, but as the season continued, he began to see some more playing time.
The 1996 Andhra Pradesh cyclone (also known as Cyclone 07B) was a small but powerful storm that left heavy damage in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It formed on 4 November in the eastern Bay of Bengal. Ahead of the storm, about 225,000 families evacuated, although many towns lacked proper storm shelters. When the cyclone made landfall, it produced strong winds up to 100 km (60 mi) inland, dropped 210 mm (8.3 in) of rainfall across a 40 km (25 mi) region, and flooded over 250 villages along a 60 km (37 mi) portion of the coast. There were 1,077 confirmed deaths with many others missing, although many of the dead were washed into the sea and were unlikely to be found.
On 19 November 1996, in a defensive move, Vodafone purchased Peoples Phone for £77 million, a 181 store chain whose customers were overwhelmingly using Vodafone's network. In a similar move, the company acquired 80% of Astec Communications that it did not own, a service provider with 21 stores.
Weah was banned from six European matches for breaking the nose of the Portuguese defender Jorge Costa on 20 November 1996 in the players' tunnel after Milan's draw at Porto in the Champions League.
A statue in Montreux, Switzerland, by sculptor Irena Sedlecká, was erected as a tribute to Mercury. It stands almost 10 feet (3 metres) high overlooking Lake Geneva and was unveiled on 25 November 1996 by Mercury's father and Montserrat Caballé, with bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor also in attendance.