Locked in several intense playoff battles over the course of their careers, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett were known as three of the most competitive individual forces in the NBA.
After the 2020 Hall of Fame ceremony was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the three legendary names are set to be officially inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Interviewed by Marc Spears, both Garnett and Duncan shared memories of competing against the late, great, Bryant.
"Kobe Bryant was like a little brother to me, man. I got to see Kobe when he was very young, not as polished as everyone got to see him," Garnett recalled.
"He was very vulnerable, we were both vulnerable and both young. We used to always interact with each other with that youthfulness. We would always talk the game, crack a lot of jokes on each other but in the end it was two very fierce competitors."
Going head-to-head with Garnett and the Boston Celtics in 2008 and 2010, Bryant would collect one of his five rings in the reintroduction of the classic Lakers-Celtics rivalry.
"Kobe Bryant was like a little brother to me."- NBA TV (@NBATV) May 14, 2021
Kevin Garnett discusses his relationship with Kobe. @Hoophall pic.twitter.com/SL3RAMLlvM
"That was our parallel. As much as he wanted to win, I wanted to win. As much as he thought he was the best, I thought I was the best. It was great back and forth, it was great competition. I don't think I'm the only one in here that thinks Kobe Bryant is missed. I miss him everyday and what he brought not just to the game of basketball but to sports period."
The rivalry on the biggest stage between Bryant and Duncan started a little earlier, with the Lakers and Spurs ruling the Western Conference for over a decade. The West was represented by the Lakers or Spurs in 13 out of 16 seasons between 1999 and 2014, with Bryant and Duncan at the forefront of their franchise's success.
"The greatest competition brings the best out of you and that's what he always did. You always had to be at your best and bring your best from start to finish if you were playing against him or any of his teams," Duncan said.
"The greatest competition brings the best out of you. That's what he always did."- NBA TV (@NBATV) May 14, 2021
Tim Duncan reflects on playing against Kobe Bryant. @Hoophall pic.twitter.com/8U4ubtCuWN
The Lakers and Spurs met in the conference finals in 2001 and 2008, with Bryant coming out on top with an 8-1 record across those two series.
"I think that's what I appreciate about remembering playing against him and being on the court with him. A fierce competitor and always demanding more of his team and his teammates than probably was possible but he wanted to win that much, he wanted it that much and it was an honour to share the court with him."
Combining for 11 championships, four MVPs and 48 All-Star selections, the trio will go down as the three of the best to ever play the game.
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