At the “Kobe Up Close” event hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, Bryant discussed the toughest players he’s ever played against. He mentioned Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant — but none were tougher than Tracy McGrady:
“The guy that always gave me the most problems was Tracy McGrady. He had all the skills and all the athleticism, but he was 6’9 and he was very tough to figure out.”
For a couple of seasons, there were constant debates on who the best player in the NBA was between Kobe and McGrady. Unfortunately, McGrady dealt with numerous injuries and never adjusted his game as he lost his athleticism. Bryant maintained his high level of play while McGrady was most recently a benchwarmer for the San Antonio Spurs.
It’s also interesting to note that Bryant didn’t mention LeBron James as one of the toughest players he’s ever played against.
However, it’s understandable considering how LeBron is rather predictable on the offensive end as Michael Jordan once mentioned. James tends to drive to the basket on the right side of the court and settles for jump shots on the left side, which was on full display when Bryant successfully blocked him twice at the 2013 All-Star Game.
Kobe has played against hundreds of players throughout his career and it’s no surprise that his toughest opponents are players who have an array of offensive moves to go along with their respective quickness, length, or power.