One player had many battles with Bryant on the court, and it got to the point where it became physical. But off the court, this player had a lot of respect for Bryant.
Kobe Bryant’s dominance in the league throughout his career
Bryant became a household name in the league after struggling to find playing time in his first few seasons with the Lakers. In his third season, Bryant became a starter for the Lakers. His career took off since then. During the 1998-99 season, he averaged 19.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. In the next three seasons, he helped lead the Lakers to three consecutive titles. During that stretch, Bryant emerged as a leader on the Lakers and became one of the league’s top players.
After that three year stretch where he won three straight titles, he became one of the league’s top scorers. From 2005 to 2007, he led the league in scoring. He averaged 35.4 points during the 2005-06 season and 31.6 points during the 2006-07 season. Throughout his career, Bryant was known for his hard work, dedication, and will to succeed at a high level. Bryant always wanted to put his team in the best position to win games.
In 2008, Bryant won the NBA MVP Award after averaging 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. Bryant’s dominance continued, after not winning a title in six years, he led the Lakers to back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. He was named Finals MVP both years and was back on top of the NBA world. Bryant developed the ‘Mamba Mentality’ throughout his career, and other athletes adopted his mindset. He was determined to be successful on the court and in life, and he wanted others to put their best foot forward all the time.
One team that Kobe Bryant hated during his career was the Phoenix Suns
Throughout his career, Bryant had many battles with different teams. One team that he did not like was the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers and the Suns had multiple battles during the regular and postseason. Even though Bryant was not a fan of the Suns, he did enjoy the battles he had playing against them. It was more of a love-hate relationship with Bryant and the Suns. The Suns always brought the best out of Bryant, and that’s something he always wanted.
Bryant wanted teams to bring their best game and make him play at an elite level. That’s what the Suns did, and Bryant always looked forward to those matchups, especially during the playoffs. The Lakers lost to the Suns in the first round of the 2006 and 2007 NBA playoffs. Bryant would finally get his revenge during the 2010 NBA playoffs when the Lakers beat the Suns in the Western Conference Finals and went on to win the NBA title.
Raja Bell had a lot of respect for Kobe Bryant despite their physical battles on the court
One player who could not stand Kobe Bryant on the court was Raja Bell. When Bell was playing with the Suns, he had the assignment of guarding Bryant, and those matchups were very physical. There were multiple altercations on the court between the two, and during the 2006 playoffs, Bell clotheslined Bryant when Bryant drove past him trying to score. All Bryant did was get up with a smile on his face and shook it off. That was only a glimpse of the battles the two had.
But Bell cherished the opportunities he had to play against Bryant. Bell knew how competitive Bryant was, and he wanted to match his competitive nature. In an interview with CBS Sports, Bell talked about how he was a fan of Bryant for a long time, but if you watched them battle on the court, you would have never thought that. At the end of the day, it was nothing, but respect and Bell appreciated the times he got to play against one of the greatest players in NBA history.