Tony Allen made a name for himself as one of the best and toughest perimeter defenders in recent NBA history. He was the epitome of grit and grind and a respected defender throughout his entire career. Needless to say, when Kobe Bryant said he was the best defender he ever faced in his 20-year-long career, that shows what kind of impact he had during his playing days.
They developed a mini-rivalry every time they played against each other, and in an interview on the show and ‘Undisputed’, Allen talked about his appreciation for Kobe. He was surprised and humbled after finding out Kobe regarded him as the toughest defender he ever had the opportunity to face. Allen praised Kobe, calling him the Michael Jordan of his generation, saying there wasn’t a player in the NBA he had to prepare as much as he did every time he had to play Kobe.
He is one of the greatest in my eye, probably my Michael Jordan. He is a great competitor, and for the most part, every battle I faced against him, I watched the most film out of any other player, from the day before the game, on the day of the game, and right before the game. There was so much film I had to put in, and just to see the fact he actually said that about me, it kinda surprised me because he never talked on the court. We were always at each other’s heads.Tony Allen, via Undisputed
There were often times when Allen was able to slow down Bryant, and even though he was relatively successful, he knew Bryant’s mentality was different than other players in the NBA. Bryant never got discouraged in shooting the ball and attacking the basket, even if he missed five shots in a row. His mentality was always in attack mode, which created many problems for defenders who often didn’t have the mental strength to keep up with that. Allen was aware of that and believes that is one of the key things that set him apart from everybody else in the NBA at that time.
He was relentless, and his mentality was to seek and destroy. I knew he was not backing down, and there is no shot that will discourage him. He might miss his first eight, but in the fourth quarter, you better believe he is that confident he will shot the next five. You don’t have a lot of superstars like that. I’ve been in the league for a long time seeing guys shy away from these moments, and he is the guy that never done that.Tony Allen, via Undisputed
Allen said he regrets not having the opportunity to sit down with Kobe and reflect on some of their most memorable matchups, and most certainly, they had plenty of those. He thinks of Kobe as the Jordan of this generation, which speaks volumes because it shows respect not many great NBA players have among their peers in the league.