Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant played against a number of great players in his Hall of Fame career, and almost every one of them has a story of how well he fared against them.
Monta Ellis, who in his prime was an extremely lethal scorer on the “We Believe” Golden State Warriors, is just another example of that.
Ellis played against Bryant a number of times in his career, and while the two were not always matched up on each other and the games were not always legendary and back and forth, Ellis remembers vividly what it was like playing against him.
He described Bryant always being on the attack and how he was always waiting for Ellis to let his guard down, according to Alex Squadron of Slam:
“I used to have some good one-on-ones in practice with BD and all of those guys. In a game, it was Kobe. Oh my goodness. He hit crazy tough shots. He was always on the attack. He was in kill mode. If he ever laid back, don’t ever get comfortable with it. It’s like, he’s just waiting his turn. If you say something crazy, if he feels any kind of excitement, he turns up. It was unbelievable to guard him.”
Ellis recalled a specific game against Bryant in 2011 that was back and forth, with both players putting up ridiculous scoring numbers:
“Oh, man. 2011. Me and him were going back and forth. He had like 30 something. I had like 40 something or close to that. They ended up winning because he hit a clutch shot at the end. And he hit it on me. There were two or three, maybe four possessions where he came down and scored, I came down and scored, he came back down and scored, I came back down and scored. We were going back and forth like that, for like 4-5 minutes straight.”
The game Ellis is referring to is a Warriors-Lakers matchup on Jan. 12, 2011. Ellis scored 38 points on 15-of-26 shooting from the field, while Bryant had 39 points and shot 13-of-21.
Bryant scored 17 fourth-quarter points to help lift the Lakers to a victory. He did this while not checking into the game until the 6:37 mark of the final quarter, and not scoring his first points until the 5:49 mark.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Bryant’s career is that almost everyone in the NBA during his 20-year tenure has a story about the five-time champion simply taking over a game and winning it by himself.