During his legendary career with the LA Lakers, Kobe Bryant had an intense rivalry with many teams. However, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Gregg Popovich, and the San Antonio Spurs were Bryant’s biggest rivals in the Western Conference.
Before he tragically passed away in January of 2020, Bryant said on many occasions that the Spurs are the reason he doesn’t have more than five NBA rings. The Black Mamba faced San Antonio six times in the Western Conference playoffs. Although Bryant went 4-2 against the Spurs, it was never easy for the Lakers to take out the pesky team from Texas.
Aside from using his elite basketball skills, Kobe Bryant had to find a way to get under the Spurs’ skin to beat them, most notably Tony Parker, who was one of the quickest guards in the NBA during his prime.
Kobe Bryant had a record of 17-12 against the Spurs in the playoffs
Kobe Bryant played 29 playoff games against the Spurs. The five-time champion went 17-12. Both Bryant and San Antonio icon Tim Duncan captured five titles during their Hall of Fame careers. Kobe won three championships in a row with Shaquille O’Neal in 2000, 2001, and 2002 and then two straight with Pau Gasol in 2009 and 2010. Meanwhile, Duncan won his five in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014.
Bryant once said that the Lakers would have won 10 championships in a row if it weren’t for Duncan and the Spurs being so good. While The Big Fundamental was the main reason why those San Antonio teams were so lethal, Tony Parker’s speed in transition and crafty play around the basket gave the Lakers many problems.
Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan was a ruthless trash talker during his playing career, but Kobe Bryant may have been more rugged than His Airness. Just ask Tony Parker.
Kobe Bryant learned French so he could mess with Tony Parker
Kobe Bryant was interviewed for Tony Parker’s documentary called “The Final Shot.” The 18-time All-Star said he learned French from Lakers teammate Ronny Turiaf to mess with Parker in his native language when LA and San Antonio faced each other. The Spurs guard found Bryant’s trash talk in French hilarious and knew Kobe was willing to do whatever it took to get the best of his opponent.
Bryant and Parker always went after each other when the Lakers and Spurs played. Both guys were insanely competitive and enjoyed guarding one another on the NBA’s biggest stage. Parker won four championships with the Spurs and took home the 2007 Finals MVP when San Antonio swept LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Meanwhile, Bryant won two Finals MVPs and is universally recognized as the second greatest shooting guard in NBA history behind only Michael Jordan.
Before he died in a tragic helicopter crash, Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker had a good relationship, which is why the Lakers great agreed to take time out of his busy schedule and participate in Parker’s documentary.
The NBA world may never get over Kobe’s death
It still doesn’t seem real that Kobe Bryant is no longer with us. The NBA world likely won’t ever get over his death, as Bryant is one of the most influential players in NBA history and a hero to so many superstars who are playing today.
In 1,346 games with the Lakers, Bryant averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. He has both his Nos. 8 and 24 jersey retired by the Lakers at Staples Center and will always be Purple and Gold fan’s favorite player of all time.
Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020. The ceremony will take place in 2021, and everyone is anxious to see who is going to present for Kobe.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.