The competitiveness epitomized how both the late great Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett played the game of basketball in their illustrious career. They faced each other several times in the playoffs and twice in the NBA finals. Despite being fierce competitors, the respect between the two was always there ever since they came to the league straight from high school.
Kobe admired Garnett’s immense versatility on both ends of the floor. During his long career, Garnett would fill out the stat sheet like no other. Bryant believes things would be much harder for the Lakers and the Spurs if the Timberwolves invested more in surrounding Garnett with more talent.
“His versatility at such size was also startling and ultimately game-changing. He could dribble, pass, and shot. I think, honestly, we’re all fortunate that Minessota didn’t surround him with an abundance of talent during his prime. If they did, it would have been a real challenge for San Antonio and us to get past them.”Kobe Bryant, The Mamba Mentality
Both Kobe and Garnett were their teams’ leaders, especially when they met in the NBA finals two times as members of the Lakers and Celtics. Kobe always knew Garnett would bring his A-game every night, which resulted in him setting the tone from the early start so that he is aware there will be no backing down. That is the rivalry Kobe appreciated because it brought the best competitive spirits out of them, which eventually formed unbelievable respect between them.
“KG was the leader of his team, and I was the leader of mine, so I made sure to send a message to everyone in the game. I see you top dog, and I am not going to back down. There were some times when I got the best of him; there were some times when he came on the top. Whatever the case may be, he and I both never backed down from a challenge, and that goes back to high school.”Kobe Bryant, The Mamba Mentality
Garnett and Kobe epitomized greatness and consistency throughout almost two decades playing in the NBA. They also shared their first All-Star appearance in 1998 when the worldwide audience had the opportunity to see what the league will look like after Jordan retires. They were both real professionals and true students of the game, which is also something that brought them together through the years despite being fierce competitors on the floor.