In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel back in 2013, Kobe Bryant was asked to name his toughest competitors. Kobe decided to break down the answer by era’s, comically naming star players who dropped 40, 50, and 60 points on him.
His rivalry with Allen Iverson was no question, as both were in the same draft class and met in the 2001 NBA Finals. A loss aggregated Kobe so much that he actually ended up studying sharks to find a way to stop AI. Carmelo Anthony seemed like a pretty obvious choice in rivalry too, as they met in the Western Conference a few times during Kobe’s last 3 trips to the Finals.
Kobe ends the interview answering Jimmy’s question. He names his toughest competitor as Tracy McGrady, an athletic 6-9 wing who was once touted with Bryant as the top guys in the league. While Tracy McGrady was on his way to a well-established career after showing promise with the Orlando Magic, injuries left him behind quite a bit.
The one person that wasn’t mentioned on the list? LeBron James. Not sure if Kobe is trying to downplay their rivalry or if he thinks LeBron just isn’t worth it, but LeBron vs Kobe has pretty much been the talk of the last 15 years.