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Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen are two of the best shooting guards in NBA history. Bean and Jesus Shuttlesworth (a nickname that nearly belonged to Kobe) squared off on numerous occasions. This includes when the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics met in the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals.

However, the brief rivalry between the two began years earlier and involved a prophecy, as well as an alleged voicemail before a preseason game.

Ray Allen gave a prophecy for Kobe Bryant’s future with the Lakers after a preseason game in 2004

Kobe Bryant stands next to Ray Allen during a game in November 2006
NBA players Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen in 2006 | Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers entered a new era before the 2004-05 season, one without star center Shaquille O’Neal. The Diesel wanted more money entering the final season of his Lakers contract, and LA opted to invest money in Bryant as the undisputed face of the franchise.

Ray Allen expressed doubt regarding Bryant’s ability to lead and incorporate his teammates.

After Bryant torched Allen’s Seattle SuperSonics for 35 points in a preseason game, the most prolific 3-point shooter in NBA history said Kobe would be too singular in his drive to prove something to basketball fans.

“[Kobe]’s going to be very selfish,” Allen said via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “And he feels like he needs to show this league and the people in this country that he is better without Shaq. He can win championships without Shaq. So offensively, he’s going to jump out and say, ‘I can average 30 points. I can still carry the load on this team.'”

Allen went on, suggesting Bryant and the Lakers lacked the talent to contend for a championship before predicting Kobe would ultimately ask for a trade.

The comments irked Kobe to the point he allegedly called Allen to leave an intimidating voicemail ahead of the next preseason game between the Lakers and Sonics. However, Bryant refused to invoke Ray’s name or address the rumors.

Bryant reportedly left Allen an intimidating voicemail but refused to speak his name

The Black Mamba took note of Allen’s comments because he responded with sheer venom.

According to SB Nation‘s Secret Base, Bryant reportedly left Allen a voicemail saying, “I’m gonna bust your ass” before the second preseason matchup between the two. Allen denied ever getting such a message, and Kobe refused to acknowledge whether he called the Sonics star. However, Bryant did issue a quip that spoke to his disdain for Allen.

“Don’t even put me and that dude in the same breath,” Kobe said.

Ultimately, basketball fans got robbed a bit. Allen did not play in the second preseason matchup, though Bryant tried to keep the beef going by questioning Allen’s back injury and jawing at the Sonics’ bench.

The animosity continued even as Allen tried to downplay the nature of his perceived rivalry with Kobe, mainly because the Lakers star insisted on using Ray’s initial comments as fuel. However, things settled between the 2-guards.

Still, the brief dust-up made things all the more interesting because of how the next several seasons played out. As Allen predicted, Bryant asked for a trade in 2007 and hoped to land with the Chicago Bulls. But the Lakers retained Kobe and, after acquiring Pau Gasol ahead of the 2008 trade deadline, suddenly had the makings of a contender.

All paths led to Bryant and Allen butting heads once again.

Allen and the Celtics defeated Bryant and the Lakers in 2008, but Kobe got his revenge in 2010

With Gasol joining the fold, the Lakers had enough star power to make a run at the Larry O’Brien Trophy. They’d have to contend with Allen and a “Big Three” Celtics team desperate to win a championship.

Allen lived up to the Jesus Shuttlesworth moniker during the 2008 NBA Finals. He averaged 20.3 points and shot a whopping 52.4% from beyond the arc. The 10-time All-Star emphatically closed the series by drilling seven triples in a blowout Game 6.

But Kobe Bryant would get another chance to write his name into one of the NBA’s best rivalries.

After winning his fourth ring in 2009, Bean and the Lakers met Boston in the 2010 Finals. Allen did his best to give the C’s an advantage, scoring 32 points and nailing eight 3-pointers to steal home-court advantage in Game 2. But Bryant kept Allen in check in a gutsy Game 3, as the Celtics star shot 0-of-13 from the field, including 0-of-8 from beyond the arc.

Boston responded by winning Game 4 and Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. However, Kobe had a double-double in a blowout Game 6 win and posted a 23-point, 15-rebound performance in an otherwise ugly Game 7 full of shooting woes.

Bryant and Allen never met again on the NBA’s biggest stage. Still, their mini-beef, the alleged voicemail, and the way in which Allen’s prophecy led the stars back to one another all make for a fun saga of sorts.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.


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