Kobe Bryant’s fearlessness and competitiveness made him an inspiration for upcoming NBA stars as well as a respected foe among many of the Los Angeles Lakers’ rivals.
Bryant’s obsession with winning led to five NBA championships for the Lakers. It also rubbed some of his co-stars up the wrong way, resulting in conflicts with Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard, among others.
However, Bryant did acknowledge greatness in others when he saw it. Stephen Curry told The Athletic’s Sam Amick he remembers to this day when the Lakers legend gave him a hat tip during the Golden State Warriors star’s sophomore NBA season when he drilled a triple despite Kobe ferociously putting the clamps on him:
“It was my second year, and we were playing at Oracle and he was on the bench,” Curry said. “I did a dribble left and right in front of their bench and a little pump fake and then hit the shot off the glass. And they had the camera zoomed in on him, and he looked at me as I was going down the court and you could see him say ‘That MF-er is nice.’
“I didn’t see it in real time. I saw it afterward. He had said it under his breath and they caught him on the camera saying it and somebody sent it to me. It was dope. When I saw it, that was a ‘Wow!’ moment. It’s corny, but it was one of those when-your-idols-become-your-rivals type vibes. But it was awesome. He recognized my skill level, and I didn’t even really know who I was as a player, so that was another type of confidence builder. Like, I’m doing something right.”
Many Kobe stories will come out again around the end of August as Bryant would have turned 44 on Tuesday — the day before Orange County and Los Angeles celebrate Kobe Bryant Day on Aug. 24.
The L.A. Dodgers hold Lakers Night on Wednesday with Austin Reaves throwing the first pitch.
Kyrie Irving, Buddy Hield & others wish Bryant a happy birthday
Many NBA stars honored Bryant’s memory on Aug. 23, the day of his birthday. Among them were Kyrie Irving and Buddy Hield — two players linked with a move to L.A. this summer.
Kobe’s former teammates, Pau Gasol and Caron Butler, joined in wishing the late Lakers legend a happy birthday.
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