Kobe Bryant circa 2013 is a lot more mature person than Kobe Bryant circa 1997. As you would expect. He’s been through the battles, he’s calm under pressure, he picks his spots better.
But don’t challenge him. Like to a game of one-on-one.
That’s the sense you take away from a great Q&A by Steve Palmer at ESPN. Good stuff where you learn Kobe loved “Django” and hates dog… poop. We’ll go with poop on a family site.
But the best part was when Palmer started asking about playing guys one-on-one and Kobe gave a series of great answers.
• On if he could beat Michael Jordan: “I’m not sure, but he would win some and I would win some in a seven-game series. It would probably come down to the last few shots.”
• What about beating LeBron? “LeBron is a terrific all-around, five-on-five basketball player who’s an all-time great. But I’d get him… LeBron is a terrific all-around, five-on-five basketball player who’s an all-time great. But I’d get him.”
• Who would give him trouble one-on-one? “Kevin Durant is the guy that would give me the most trouble. With his length and ability to use the dribble, he’d be tough.”
• What about Tracy McGrady? “I played T-Mac. I cooked him. Roasted him. Wasn’t even close. Ask him, he’ll tell you. When I was about 20, we were in Germany doing some promotional stuff for that other sneaker company and we played basketball every day. We were in the gym all the time. We played three games of one-on-one to 11. I won all three games. One game I won 11-2. After the third game he said he had back spasms and couldn’t play anymore.”
As Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated said on twitter, if you think Kobe never lost a game of one-on-one, you should ask Brian Shaw about that. As a first and second year player Kobe used to challenge all the veterans and the way I heard the stories he didn’t always win.
Still, the quotes are vintage Kobe. You should go read the entire interview. But this was my favorite part.