Just the other day, we already had the second anniversary of the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi and seven other people. It's crazy how time flies, with the dreadful day still fresh in the memory of all NBA fans. Kobe's friends and rivals were hit hard by the tragedy, and everyone still reminisces fondly of the great legacy Bryant left behind. One of his fiercest rivals and most respected peers was most definitely Allen Iverson.
The numerous battles
Both Kobe and Allen came into the league in the iconic 1996 Draft and took the NBA by storm. Iverson was the #1 pick and expected to produce right away, which he did, while Kobe came in a bit slower as the #13 pick out of high school. But Kobe would quickly show his talent and help the Lakers to a three-peat.
AI's and Kobe's careers would cross paths early, with them meeting in the 2001 NBA Finals. Allen was a one-man show willing his Sixers to the very end when they really had no business being there. On the other hand, the Lakers were a powerhouse, coming off a title in 2000 and without losing a single game in their whole playoff run until the Finals.
But then AI would strike with an incredible performance, scoring 48 points in Game 1 in Los Angeles. The whole series was graced by Kobe and Iverson going back and forth, all while trash-talking each other. But in the end, Kobe had Shaq and a better team behind him, as the Lakers took another championship in five games.
After that, their careers would go in their separate ways. Kobe became a 5x time champion and a Lakers legend, among the greatest players in history, while Iverson became more of an individual phenom loved by fans all over the world for his flashy play and skills. But AI never managed to become a champion.
Still, that didn't stop Kobe from having immense respect for Iverson and his game. So much so he would study white sharks to prepare for battles against him. The two never teamed up but still created a brotherhood that would last even after their careers. So naturally, when news of Kobe's death struck, Iverson was hit hard by the information.
Some time has passed, and Iverson was recently seen signing autographs for fans. What caught the eyes of many was when a fan came with a poster of Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant in their primes. AI loved it so much he wanted one: "Damn, who's is this? It's yours? Man, you gonna give me one? You got another one for me? Man, I need one of these."
Iverson was never one to hide emotions when playing, and that hasn't changed in his retirement days. Seein' that poster brought back memories of his glory days competing with Kobe on the biggest stage. A wholesome moment that warmed the hearts of many NBA fans. Like Iverson said in an interview a while back: "Killers respect killers."