The late great Kobe Bryant and Minnesota Timberwolves legend Kevin Garnett shared a lot in common. Not only did both Hall of Famers enter the NBA straight out of high school, but they made their first All-Defensive team in the same season thanks to Gary Payton.
Bryant and Garnett made the 1999-00 first-team All-Defensive squad. They were joined by Payton, Alonzo Mourning, and Tim Duncan.
Several factors contributed to them making the All-Defensive first-team in 1999-00, but Bryant and Garnett owe their award to Payton, one of the best defenders in NBA history.
Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett are two of the best all-around players in NBA history
It’s fitting that Bryant and Garnett got inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year. They are two of the fiercest competitors in NBA history and basketball legends.
Bryant spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists and won five championships, two Finals MVPs, and one regular-season MVP. The Black Mamba also made 18 All-Star teams and 12 All-Defensive squads.
Garnett played for the Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets. He averaged 17.8 points and 10.0 rebounds and won one MVP, one Defensive Player of the Year Award, and one championship. Just like Bryant, the Big Ticket also made 12 All-Defensive teams.
As mentioned above, the first season Garnett and Bryant made an All-Defensive team was in 1999-00, and it’s mainly because of a trick they learned from Payton during an All-Star practice in Oakland.
Gary Payton taught Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett defensive tricks
The 2000 All-Star Game was in Oakland, California. Bryant, Garnett, and Payton helped the Western Conference defeat the Eastern Conference by a final score of 137-126.
Not only did Bryant and Garnett both have great All-Star games, but they learned some valuable lessons from Payton after a West practice, helping them become elite defenders.
During an appearance on All The Smoke with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson in 2020, Garnett talked about how Payton helped him and Bryant.
“Gary Payton, after All-Star practice, pulled us to the side cuz Kobe asked him something. He pulled both of us to the side, and he went through a 30 minute joint with us on defense,” Garnett said. “Just little tricks of the trade. Next time I saw Kobe after the break, he was using it.”
Payton made nine All-Defensive teams during his Hall of Fame career and won the 1995-96 Defensive Player of the Year Award with the Seattle SuperSonics. He’s fourth in NBA history in steals with 2,445.
Bryant, Garnett, and Payton are three of the top defenders in NBA history. It must have been a treat for Bryant and Garnett to learn from the Glove.
KG and the Black Mamba will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame May 14-16
The Hall of Fame class of 2020 was unveiled on April 4, 2020. The nine new members of the Basketball Hall of Fame will be enshrined May 14-16. The original ceremony was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Garnett, Bryant, and Duncan headline the class of 2020. It will be very emotional when Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan steps to the podium to present Bryant since the Lakers icon is no longer with us.
Duncan and Garnett will be introduced by David Robinson and Isiah Thomas, respectively. It should be a tremendous ceremony.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.