Raja Bell was one of the most aggressive wing defenders in recent NBA history who received a lot of attention because of his constant duels with Kobe Bryant during the 00’s. The former Phoenix Suns went head to head with Kobe Bryant on 44 separate occasions and the stats don’t lie, Bryant got the upper hand in most of these games scoring in different ways over Bell.
In a story by Zach Lowe about Manu Ginobili, Raja Bell admits that despite having numerous battles with Kobe that brought a lot of attention from the media and the fans, he wasn’t his toughest matchup throughout the years. Bell thinks Ginobili is the hardest player to guard, even though most of the people don’t want to hear that.
“People always ask me who was hardest to guard. I say, Kobe. That is what people want to hear. But the truth is, it might have been Manu. He’d rev it to fourth gear, get by you, take it back to second gear so you’d run into him, and then he’d make a crazy floater. I made a living studying offensive players. I couldn’t figure him out.”
The numbers don’t lie and Ginobili had more success playing against Bell winning 17 out of 24 contests. Kobe on the other hand, despite playing extremely well against Bell, won exactly half of the games, 14 a piece in the regular season and 8 a piece in the playoffs.
This doesn’t mean Ginobili is a better player than Kobe, however, it was noted several times by other players that Ginobili had a unique playing style a lot of defenders couldn’t figure out. Even his coach Gregg Popovich said Ginobili used to drive him mad because he was soo unpredictable and he never knew what is his next move.