Well over a year after his tragic death, Kobe Bryant’s legend continues to live on.
On a recent episode of the “All the Smoke” podcast, new Los Angeles Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony recalled a time when he and Bryant went head to head in the playoffs and held nothing back.
“The greatest, man,” said Anthony about his 2009 Western Conference Finals matchup with Bryant. “That was my moment where me and Kob became – before that we went to the Olympics. We became very close. But we became close on some disrespectful s—. You know Kob, he going into your neck. He elbowing you. I had my braids back then, too, so he touching my head. I’m like, ‘Don’t touch my head. Don’t touch me no more, dawg.’ He’s smirking. He’s throwing his little s— elbows, and ’09 came, and it was like, I remember we hugged before the game, and he was like, ‘It’s war.’ I said, ‘It’s war. Let’s get it. It ain’t gonna be nothing easy.’ And I just remember him telling me, ‘I’ll guard you in the fourth. They ain’t gonna make no calls on me. They ain’t gonna call no s— on me in the fourth.’ And I used to try to beat him up though. I was bigger than him, so I used to try to beat him up, be physical with him. He come back, elbow me. I come back, elbow him. He laughing, talking, ‘That’s all you got?’”
Bryant and Anthony helped Team USA win back the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics. In doing so, they develop a very close friendship.
The next season, Anthony’s Nuggets became one of the league’s best teams, and they went up against Bryant’s Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
Denver was able to play the Lakers to a standstill for much of the series, but L.A. eventually prevailed in six games and went on to win the NBA championship.
Anthony’s story was just one of many that many have recalled about Bryant’s legendary competitiveness. The Lakers legend was one of the rare athletes who didn’t just want to win, but needed to win to be at peace with himself.
Now the former Syracuse University standout will get the chance to don the same purple and gold that Bryant represented for 20 spectacular years.