Kobe Bryant lists best teams, players he faced in NBA career
MANILA, Philippines – Over the course of his 20-year NBA career, future basketball Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant has seen his share of battles against some of the best opposing players and teams that stood in the way of him and his Los Angeles Lakers.
But if Bryant, a 5-time NBA champion and former league MVP, was asked to rank the top teams and players he’s gone up against, who would be on his list?
That question was thrown at Bryant himself during a conference call with international media early on Tuesday, December 21.
“Top 5 teams that I’ve faced,” Bryant started his answer, without specifying whether the rank would be in order or not, “I’d probably say the San Antonio Spurs were always tough.”
Kobe first faced the Spurs in the 1999 Western Conference semifinals, with Tim Duncan and company sweeping LA, 4-0, before eventually winning the NBA title against the New York Knicks.
The two teams would meet again in the 2001 Western semis (Lakers won, 4-0), 2002 Western semis (Lakers won, 4-1), 2003 Western semis (Spurs won, 4-2), 2004 Western semis (Lakers won, 4-2), 2008 Western finals (Lakers won, 4-1), and 2013 Western first round (Spurs won, 4-0).
“The Sacramento Kings in the playoffs were tough,” Bryant said next, referring to one of his team’s fiercest rivals, whom they faced and defeated in consecutive playoff series from 2000-2002.
“Boston Celtics [in] 2008 were tough. Detroit Pistons [in] 2004 were tough,” continued Bryant, talking about two teams who defeated his Lakers in finals series during the aforementioned years.
“I’d say the Chicago Bulls,” he rounded up the list after taking some time to decide the fifth and final opponent, “obviously, when I first came into the league, they (with Michael Jordan) were tough.”
Bryant then answered the question on the top players he’s faced:
“Top players, let’s see. Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, LeBron James,” he said, before again taking time to think of the fifth and final choice: “Clyde Drexler.”
Olajuwon is a two-time NBA champion, Jordan is considered by many as the greatest NBA player ever, Durant was an NBA MVP in 2014, James is a 4-time NBA MVP and considered by many as the greatest NBA player today, and Drexler is a member of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list.
However, the 37-year-old did say it was tough to come up with just 5 players due to the multitude of talent he faced throughout his career.
“Players is a little tougher for me,” explained Bryant. “I came into the league when there were still many great players playing, like John Stockton was still playing. Clyde Drexler was still playing. Gary Payton, Anfernee Hardaway. There was a lot of great [players]. Top 5 players is a little tough for me."
Bryant has recently announced that this NBA season will be his last. – Rappler.com