These four, commonly known as the ‘Banana Boat,’ have all been inspired or changed by Bryant at one point or another, especially when all four collided with him at the 2008 Olympics as part of the Redeem Team. Bryant was at the height of his powers in 2008 and was the leader on a gold medal team including James, Anthony, Paul, and Wade.
While reminiscing about Bryant on an Instagram Live with Wade, Anthony recently spoke about one of his first interactions with Bryant, according to Joshua Espinoza of Complex:
“It’s hard to speak to people when you come on the court, ’cause you don’t know what their mentality is. They might dub you, right? They might not even say nothin’ to you. They might not shake your hand,” Anthony said. “So, Kob comes on the court—gives me dap, I give him dap. So, throughout the game, he’s sayin’ little shit to me, like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re gonna let you go off now, until the fourth quarter. I’mma guard you in the fourth quarter.”
Anthony continued speaking about Bryant post-game and the conversation the two had about earning his respect when the buzzer sounded:
“After the game, he came to me and he was like, ‘You got my respect,” Anthony said. “I’m like, ‘What are you talkin’ about? We got to play for your respect?’ … [Bryant] was like, ‘Nah, you didn’t back down … I wanted to see if you were gonna stand the test of time’ … but for him to almost crown me … That’s my story. I didn’t know I was being tested by him, but being tested, and passing the test without even knowing.”
This was the type of mentality Bryant had as a player and person and where the Black Mamba persona originated from. Bryant was hugely impactful for Anthony as the two went head to head a number of times over the years and always gave each other their best game.
Despite no longer being here, Bryant will undoubtedly continue to inspire generations of NBA players through stories like this that are passed down.