Allen Iverson is another player whose career was closely tied with Kobe Bryant’s throughout the years. After it was announced Kobe and his daughter Gianna passed away, Iverson shared his feelings about Kobe, who he considers a competitor, a great basketball player, and a true friend.
Iverson said he is devastated and heartbroken by the fact Kobe is no longer with us. He never saw someone who had so much respect and love for the game of basketball. After they both got drafted into the NBA in 1996, their careers were forever linked to one another.
"Words cannot express how I'm feeling today. The only two words that ring in my head - devestated and heartbroken. I cannot seem to shake this feeling no matter what I've tried to do since hearing this yesterday.
People will always remember how we competed against each other in the league, but it goes so much than that for me. The story of us being drafted in arguable the deepest class of its kind ever in the history of the NBA can be debated for many years to come. However, his generosity and respect for the game is something that I witnessed first-hand every time we stepped on the dance floor to compete."
Iverson shared an anecdote between him and Kobe before Iverson’s first game in L.A. when he met Kobe for dinner. After they ended their night, Iverson planned to go to a club while Kobe went to the gym to work on his game. The hard work and the desire to be the best was something that drove Bryant ever since he entered the NBA, and it was his trademark his entire career.
"It's one memory of him that I can't stop thinking about. It was our rookie season and my first trip to L.A. for a game against the Lakers. He came to my hotel, picked me up, and took me to a restaurant. When we returned before he left, he asked me, "what are you going to do tonight? My reply was, "I'm going to the club, what are you going to do? He said I'm going to the gym". That is who he always was, a true student of the game of basketball and also the game of life. He prepared relentlessly. There is something we can all learn from the "Mamba" mentality, and from the way my brother lived his life. He will always have my respect as a competitor, as a friend, as a brother. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Vanessa, their children, and the families of all the victims of yesterday's tragedy. As a father, I cannot wrap my head around how they must feel. We are not okay. But we will find the strength to pull through this together because that's what Kobe would want us to do."