With Kobe Bryant retirement from the NBA earlier this month, all sorts of stories and unforgettable memories involving the former Los Angeles Lakers superstar have started to surface. Former coaches, teammates, players, and celebrities have begun to tell their stories with Baron Davis being the latest to tell his favorite memory of the five-time NBA champion.
Davis recently made an appearance on ESPN’s His & Hers hosted by Michael Smith and Jemele Hill and was asked about his favorite memory of Kobe. Davis’ memory goes all the way back to his days with the UCLA Bruins.
Davis had suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and was at a team practice when all of the sudden a familiar face walks through the door:
“I would say my Kobe story was when I knew I was going to go pro. I hurt my knee at UCLA, and I think it was the NBA lockout, and we were practicing, UCLA, we were practicing, and I couldn’t practice because I was still injured and Kobe Bryant walks into the gym.”
Apparently, Davis’ was far enough along in his recovery and was confident enough to take on one of the NBA’s rising stars:
“He didn’t say nothing to anybody. He just started working out, warming up on the other court. And then, I walked over and like ‘Man, can I rebound for you?’ and he was like ‘Yeah.’
“I was like ‘Do you want to play one-on-one?’ because the team was practicing. So me and Kobe we started playing these games of one-on-one, and next thing you know, I look up, and I’m down like 3-0, I look to the sidelines, and the whole team is watching us play one-on-one.”
After six games of one-on-one battles with the Lakers star, Davis knew he was headed for bigger and better things. Davis admits Bryant wiped the floor with him at UCLA’s practice facility, but he wasn’t 100 percent, and it’s a running joke between the two to this day:
I was like, damn, dude. I must be going to the pros now playing one-on-one with Kobe. He kicked my butt, but I was still injured. We laugh about that all the time.”
Although Bryant apparently dominated the up-and-coming UCLA point guard, Davis claims he won two out of the six games they played:
“I think it was 4-2. Four games to two.”
Davis made the jump to the next level in the 1999 NBA Draft going third overall to the same team that drafted Bryant in a few years earlier in 1996. The two NBA stars faced each other for 13 seasons with Davis playing for five different teams including the Charlotte-New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks.
Bryant and Davis saw plenty of each other while Davis was in the Pacific Division with the Warriors and Clippers. Davis now plays in the NBA D-League for the Delaware 87ers and is trying to recruit former Laker Lamar Odom to his Drew League team to help the two-time NBA champion attempt to get back in the NBA.