Former Philly legend Allen Iverson explains how he knew that Kobe Bryant was going to be a legend right after the Lakers legend’s encounter with Michael Jordan.
Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson are two of the greatest players in the history of the league. Both these legends entered the league together, and in no time found instant success with the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers, respectively.
In the 13 years that they both played in the league together, the all-time greats went at it against each other on 38 instances. Even though AI managed to out-score (26.6-25.1), out-assist (6.4-5.5) and out-steal (2.1-1.2) Kobe, it was the Mamba who got the last laugh winning 24 of their 38 meetings.
In fact, it was Bryant who defeated Allen during his one and only trip to the NBA Finals, despite which, the Mamba and the Answer had the utmost respect for each other. The two even shared a loving relation after Allen decided to hang his boots in 2010.
“The first time Kobe Bryant played Michael Jordan, I knew he was going to be a killer”: Allen Iverson
Back in 2020, Allen Iverson spoke about the Black Mamba and the exact moment when AI knew Kobe was going to be a legend in the game. In his “The Players’ Tribune” article Iverson revealed that Kobe was a straight-up “killer”, the first time he saw Bryant take on Michael Jordan.
“Kobe Bean Bryant….
The first time I saw you going up against Black Jesus, when you were 18 years old, I knew you were a killer. 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.
We might have grown up in different circumstances. But when I saw you on the court, and how hard you were going, I knew we were raised with the same mentality. I wasn’t tall — but in my mind, I was going to be a giant out there every single night. You were 6′ 6″, and could’ve scored in your sleep. But that wasn’t enough. You were trying to be the best that ever did it.
Everybody says they want to be that. But not everybody is willing to sacrifice what it really takes to do it.”
While it is not clear what exact match Iverson is referring to, we believe it was Kobe and Jordan’s third meeting. Back in 1997, a young Kobe Bryant came off the bench and put up a team-high 33 points on 60% shooting from the field, in a tragic 104-83 loss. That very game the Mamba displayed no fear in going hard against the GOAT, showcasing his fearless self to the whole world.