Isaiah Thomas says Kobe Bryant is the best player he’s ever seen: ‘Nobody comes close’

Jason Simpson
3 Min Read

When former NBA All-Star Isaiah Thomas was asked to name the best basketball player he’s ever seen, he didn’t hesitate to pick Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

Thomas explained his pick and admitted that “you just feared him right when you stepped on the court.”

“You just feared him right when you stepped on the court,” he said. “His energy was for you to fear. … I’ve never seen somebody that sharp. And then when I got to build a friendship with him and hear him talk about the game, it was on a level that I’ve never heard before. Nobody comes close.”

During the early stages of Thomas’ career, Bryant was still in the league. Thomas debuted in the 2011-12 season, which was Bryant’s 16th season in the NBA. The Lakers legend played 20 seasons in total.

Although Thomas and Bryant were in the league at the same time for five seasons in total, only two of those five seasons came when Bryant was still producing at an elite level.

Those two seasons were the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns. Over those two seasons, Bryant averaged 27.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. His production was never the same in the years that followed.

Still, those two seasons clearly left a lasting impression on Thomas. It’s obvious that Bryant had a major impact on him.

Thomas, who earned two All-Star selections during his prime years, actually went 6-4 in games against Bryant when both players were active. With the amount of respect the 33-year-old has for the Hall of Famer, he surely takes pride in the fact that he was able to steal some wins from him.

Thomas is currently without a home in the NBA, and it remains to be seen if he’ll get an opportunity this season. He gave the Charlotte Hornets a real boost last season during a short stint with them, providing value as both a bench piece and veteran leader.

Despite playing a small role, he averaged 8.3 points per game for Charlotte while shooting 43.3 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from deep. He did so over the course of 17 games, getting 12.9 minutes of action per contest.

The veteran is known as an extremely hard worker, which could be a quality that Bryant helped instill in him. Time will tell if Thomas’ hard work results in another NBA opportunity.

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Jason is excited about the LeBron James era of Lakers basketball and hopes that the end result will be multiple championships.