Current Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue won two NBA titles as a player while with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1998 to 2001. Lue played alongside superstar Kobe Bryant in the backcourt in Los Angeles before ultimately signing with the Washington Wizards in 2001.
Embarking on a new career path as an NBA head coach, the 38-year-old recently got a chance to reflect on his time playing with Bryant in Los Angeles. Lue talked about his favorite memory of Kobe ahead of the matchup between the Lakers and Cavaliers on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The memory took place during a 5-on-5 scrimmage during Lakers practice, and things got a bit heated via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“Long story short is, it was a game point and [Bryant] drove baseline and I was at the elbow. And he drove baseline and I went down the lane and I pinned his dunk against the glass. He tried to dunk it and I blocked it against the glass. We came down, Devean George made a layup for game and Brian Shaw went, ‘Ahhh, he blocked you!’ He went crazy. Kobe wanted to fight me at first and then, second, he wanted to play one-on-one after practice.
“‘We going to play one-on-one, me and you.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not playing you one-on-one.’ He was so mad and then, after that, it was just, every day we stepped onto the court, he just went after me every single day. It was crazy. And then, like other stories, just playing one-on-one every day, every time we acquired a new guy, he would play those guys one-on-one after every practice just to show them, like, ‘I’m the man, I’m the man.’ Did the same thing with Glen Rice. Just his competitive nature, man, it was just unbelievable.”
Most people remember Lue for being the player Allen Iverson stepped over in the 2001 NBA Finals after making a shot in front of the Lakers bench. Iverson torched Lue and the Lakers for 48 points handing Los Angeles their only loss in the postseason that year.
Despite the lasting memory of the Iverson stepover, Lue’s playing career in the NBA lasted nine years. Lue played for eight teams before making the transition into coaching in 2009. The former Laker began his coaching career as an assistant with the Boston Celtics before heading to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013 and eventually becoming the head coach of the Cavaliers following the firing of David Blatt.
Lue will coach against his former Lakers teammate for the first as a head coach on Wednesday night. Along with Lue getting his first crack at Kobe as the leader on the sidelines, it will be Bryant’s last game in Cleveland.