Bryant, who very rarely praised other players since he was such a fierce competitor, had immense respect for Wade, so much so that the Los Angeles Lakers legend paid the Miami Heat icon the highest compliment a player could ask for from him.
Kobe Bryant: Dwyane Wade hardest player I’ve ever had to guard in the screen and roll
In 2016, which was Bryant’s final year in the NBA, Wade crashed the Lakers superstar’s postgame press conference since the two were close friends. After the Heat guard left the media room, Bryant talked about how much he loved Wade, both as a person and player.
“I love him. He was a vicious competitor,” Bryant said about Wade. “He’s vicious. He’s mean. We could have those types of battles, and then afterwards, hang out and have a conversation and lace ’em up and go right back at it. I enjoy competing against him. The hardest player I’ve ever had to guard in the screen and roll. He’d come off a screen and just disappear.”
Bryant and Wade faced each other 20 times, and each game was extraordinary for both guys.
Kobe Bryant vs. Dwyane Wade was always fun
Bryant was 9-11 versus Wade in his career. He averaged 26.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists against Flash and hit one of his most famous game-winners over the All-NBA guard in 2009. Bryant banked in a one-legged 3-pointer at the buzzer over Wade to give the Lakers a 108-107 win over the Heat during the 2009-10 season.
Wade not only had a winning record against Bryant, but he also put up stellar numbers. The Chicago native averaged 24.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 6.5 assists versus the Black Mamba. It was always a treat for basketball fans to watch Bryant and Wade face each other. It’s too bad the two icons never played against one another in the NBA Finals.
Michael Jordan is widely recognized as the greatest shooting guard in NBA history. After all, he won six titles, six Finals MVPs, five regular-season MVPs, 10 scoring titles, and is the all-time leader in points per game and player efficiency rating.
After Jordan, Bryant and Wade should be everyone’s second and third — respectively — best shooting guards in NBA history. Both guys won multiple championships and did whatever it took to win.
Taking a look at their historic numbers
Bryant spent his entire career with the Lakers. He averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists while winning five rings, two Finals MVPs, one regular-season MVP, two scoring titles, and four All-Star Game MVPs. Bryant, who tragically died in 2020, is fourth in NBA history in points and seventh in field goals.
Meanwhile, Wade played for the Heat, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, although he’s mostly remembered for what he accomplished in Miami. The Marquette product finished his career with averages of 22.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. Wade won three championships, the 2006 Finals MVP, the 2010 All-Star Game MVP, and the 2009 scoring title.
Bryant and Wade combined for 31 All-Star appearances. The former was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020, while the latter will be enshrined once he becomes eligible.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.