Kyrie Irving is considered by some to be one of the late Kobe Bryant’s students. It has certainly paid off as the Brooklyn Nets star is still arguably the most talented player in the league. As we all know, Bryant retired from the league after the 2016 NBA season finishing an impressive 20-year career.
Thankfully for fans, he played his fair share of games against Kyrie before doing so. During the US men’s Olympics basketball team training, Irving had an exchange with Bryant that is still popular today several years later. Fans must certainly want to know what was said in this conversation and more context to it. Therefore, a throwback to this incident is useful.
Kyrie Irving believed that Kobe Bryant couldn’t guard him
As we all know, modern basketball is offensively focused. However, back in Bryant’s era, players prided themselves more on their defensive abilities and being able to stop the best player in the opposing team from scoring.
The Black Mamba was undoubtedly one such player and made it a point to be a great defensive-minded player from the early stages of his career. This can clearly be seen by the fact that he made 12x All NBA Defensive teams, something that no other guard in this league has been able to do.
Thus, we could understand his skepticism when interacting with a young Irving. Kyrie claimed that it simply wasn’t possible for Bryant to lock him up defensively. Not only that, he even said that he could stop Kobe in a 1v1. To this, Kobe had quite an enthusiastic response.
“Oh, now I know you lost your mind. You think you can score on me? What makes you think that?… Cuz you would have talked yourself into getting 50 dropped on you.”
The 5x NBA champion later spoke to the media about this interaction with Kyrie, “He challenged me to a 1 on 1 game, so either he’s confident or crazy.”
When Kyrie Irving challenged Kobe Bryant to a game of one-on-one 👀 pic.twitter.com/JE8Fdmjexc
— Kobe Highlights & Motivation (@kobehighlight) February 4, 2023
There is no denying that a young Irving was a transcendental offensive player. However, we have to side with Bryant after listening to his explanation of what would go down, “You gonna need a pick to get me off you. Then you going to be looking at the refs like ‘ref it’s a foul’…I give him credit for his confidence.”
Kobe hounded his opponents on the defensive end of the floor. Additionally, he was bigger and stronger than Irving. Therefore, his scenario as to how it would go down is quite likely.
Discussion about this post