Kobe Bryant once hilariously showed love to Kyrie Irving but also followed it up by saying that he could never beat him one-on-one.
Kobe Bryant is widely regarded as one of the greatest offensive players in the history of the NBA. Everything from averaging 35+ points in a season, winning back-to-back scoring titles, and dropping 81 whole points in a single NBA game, ‘The Black Mamba’ had a bag that was as deep as anybody’s in the league.
Whilst on his 20 year journey with the Los Angeles Lakers, he became what Michael Jordan was to him, to several other players in the league. Superstars in the NBA today who were under the tutelage of Kobe Bryant were guys like Kawhi Leonard, Jayson Tatum, and of course, Kyrie Irving.
Irving and Bryant had a special relationship with one another that dates back to their days with Team USA together. The former Duke Blue Devil even claimed to have reached out to Bryant before anybody else in the locker room after winning the 2016 NBA championship, telling him that his advice actually worked.
Knowing the two however, with a mentor/mentee relationship came a competitive one as well.
Kobe Bryant on facing Kyrie Irving one-on-one.
During an interview with ESPN in the midst of his 17th season(the one with Steve Nash and Dwight Howard), Kobe Bryant talked about various guys who he had either played 1v1 with or wished who he could have a 1v1 against.
When the interviewer asked about Kyrie Irving, the 5x champ said:
“Kyrie’s my boy but he knows he doesn’t have anything for me. He doesn’t want to see me. But it would be fun. I’ve beaten a lot of guys one-on-one, like Reggie Miller and Grant Hill. I used to paly Caron Butler all the time in practice when he was with the Lakers. When I was a rookie, I used to get Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones.”
Kobe and Kyrie actually had a bet for $50,000 on a 1v1 where the loser would donate to a charity but that 1v1 never really materialized.