Horace Grant is known and remembered as one of the most ultimate role players the NBA has ever seen, winning 4 championships as a valuable starting power forward on his teams. Even though he is mainly remembered for his days with the Chicago Bulls, where he won three titles alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Grant also had some meaningful stints with the Magic and the Lakers.
After playing with possibly the best duo in basketball history, Grant had the chance to play alongside some other stars in the making. In Orlando, Penny & Shaq looked like the next legacy, while in LA, Kobe & Shaq dominated the NBA for years. Grant had the luck of playing alongside some amazing individuals, serving as that veteran presence and stabilizer for the young guns.
Back in 2014, in an interview with Bill Simmons, Grant got asked who the bigger talent between Kobe and Penny was, considering he shared the locker room with those two in their younger days. Safe to say, it was a tricky question for Horace.
Talent? Oh man, that’s very tricky. They’re both right there. I can’t say one is more talented.Horace Grant, The Universe Galaxy
Even though he couldn’t really give an edge to just one, it is obvious Kobe had the better career. But Bill pointed out how if it wasn’t for the injuries that Penny could have had the same kind of career Kobe had, which Grant firmly confirmed.
Oh yeah, without a doubt. I’m talking about 6’7”, 6’8” can see the floor, three-pointers, drive to the basket, assists, you name it. All-around game.Horace Grant, The Universe Galaxy
To cap off the segment, Bill was interested in which guy was more fun to play with since that means a lot in his evaluation of a player. Even though Grant liked playing with both, Penny and his passing ability persevered.
Fun to play with? They were both fine with me man. If I had to pick, I would say Penny. Penny, you can go up and say:’Yo, know Penny, I need a couple of shots, man. Ok, alright, imma get you the ball.’ Kobe would say: ‘Hey, get it off the rebound.’Horace Grant, The Universe Galaxy
Logically even though they are both unbelievable players, Kobe and Penny were pretty different in their playstyles. Kobe was a lethal scorer, looking to get his own shot and fill it up, while Penny’s game was more well-rounded, doing a bit of everything and getting his teammates more involved. Naturally, a power forward like Horace Grant, who lived off those passes, had more fun playing alongside Penny.
Looking at the total body of work, Kobe’s career is a story of itself, widely regarded as one of the best players ever, while Penny’s got shut down way too early. But during his best days, Hardaway was one of the most exciting players in the game. Comparing these two in their younger days is totally acceptable, as they both showed out early on in their careers. It’s only a shame we didn’t get the chance to see Penny fulfill all his potential like Kobe did. One of the most prominent “what-if” players ever.