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"It was intelligent trash talking, when you played him you’re playing a mental war" — Gilbert Arenas shares his experience trash-talking Kobe Bryant

Former Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas outlines what it was like to receive trash-talking from Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant and Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas

Kobe Bryant and Gilbert Arenas

Former Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and former Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas are two of the most talented scorers ever to grace the NBA.

Luckily for fans, the two guards played in the same era and gave the NBA world memories through their epic back-and-forth battles.

The battles were legendary

While Bryant shared the better of the spoils between the two, Arenas gave him everything he could handle when they matched up with each other.

The pair faced off 16 times throughout their playing days, with Bryant coming away victorious on 9 occasions. During those contests, both stars averaged over 20 points, with Arenas scoring 24.2 points and Bryant registering 29.8 points per game.

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Bryant may have also edged Arenas in all other major statistical categories; however, the Wizards man did have the most dominant scoring performance in those battles, posting 60 points in December 2006. Bryant did have 45 points of his own that night, but the Wizards pulled away in overtime, running away with a 147-141 win.

The trash-talking was elite

A natural by-product of the fierce rivalry was the trash-talking between the duo. Recently, Arenas sat down with Orlando Magic’s RJ Hampton on his podcast “Young Person” and revealed what those exchanges were like.

“It was intelligent trash talking. Like he made you always second guess everything you’re doing. He always did this. He’s like bro you’re not open I’m not even go help over there. He used to say ‘Mouse in the house,’ It was just random stuff, it was sometimes a conversation, and then you get a foul, and he goes ‘Go sit on the bench, stupid.’ It was just one of those things where when you played him, you’re playing a mental war,” Arenas said.

Bryant was one of a kind

With his comments, Arenas joins the long list of NBA players that have legendary Bryant trash-talking stories. When it came to the five-time champion, he embraced the challenge through words and his play. It lit a fire inside him, and his competitive nature ranks among the most tenacious in league history.

Trash-talking was an art form for Bryant; a passion, a necessity, a means to create an edge over his opponents, even when he didn’t need a mental advantage at all.

It’s safe to say trash-talking on the floor peaked in the 90s and early 2000s and, although not as prevalent, is still present in today’s league, albeit subdued.

Given the nature of the league and its players, trash-talking will always exist in the association. It’s an aspect of the game that all NBA fans know and love, and long may it continue. 

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