2001 NBA MVP Allen Iverson says he knew Kobe Bryant would be a legend when he saw him going at Michael Jordan when he was just 18 years old. Bryant, who ended up as an all-time great, claimed five NBA titles during his career and a number of other big accolades.
Bryant tragically lost his life earlier this year. "The first time I saw you going up against Black Jesus, when you were 18 years old, I knew you were a killer," Iverson said in his contribution post for The Players' Tribune.
"That’s when I realized you were going to be a legend in this game. You were going hard at Mike that night. No fear whatsoever. I mean, I knew from passing you in traffic over the years that you were a dog. But when I saw you going at Black Jesus like that? "That’s when I knew you were a kindred spirit."
Iverson says Bryant 'was the baddest guy on the court'
Iverson went at No. 1 in the 1996 NBA draft, while Bryant was selected at No. 13 -- the two clashed against each other in the NBA Finals five years later. Iverson never claimed an NBA title and Bryant was the one to "blame" as he led the Los Angeles Lakers past the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2001 NBA Finals.
"And boy, you were the sh*t. You were the toughest man that I’ve ever seen in this game. The most cold-blooded serial killer I’ve ever seen. The fiercest competitor I’ve ever seen. I remember hearing the story that you were on the road, and you were watching the highlights of me dropping 35 on the Knicks at the Garden our rookie year, and you got so mad that you smashed up the hotel room and you started researching me like you were in the CIA.
“GET ME THE FILE ON A.I”. — I bet it was like that. Studying how great white sharks hunt down seals in the Pacific Ocean and whatnot. "What I love about that story is, it’s the truth. That was just our relationship.
Two dudes pushing each other to greatness. The next time you came through Philly, you were ALL up in my sh*t. There was no half-stepping you. Every first step, I had to go 100. You’re 6′ 6″, and it was like you wanted to guard me.
You wanted the challenge. You wanted to show me that you were the baddest motherf***er to ever play the game. "And I didn’t want ANY part of Kobe Bryant on the other end!!!!!