Arguably the two best guards and undoubtedly the two most popular players of this recent generation were Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson.
The two guards had a number of memorable battles, most notably in the 2001 NBA Finals when Kobe and the Lakers defeated Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers in five games.
Now that Bryant has officially announced his retirement, Iverson paid his respect with a brief, but powerful statement according to Ananth Pandian of CBS Sports:
To the Mamba,” Iverson said via SportsCenter. “You brought so much out of me like no other player ever has. There will never, ever be another player like Kobe Bryant. I love you bro and good luck to you.”
Iverson and Kobe had a lot in common as each was known for their outstanding scoring abilities and toughness on the court. Very few players have been able to consistently play through injuries and put their bodies on the line as much as these players did.
Kobe and Iverson were fierce competitors on the court, but they always shared that mutual respect. Each was drafted in the loaded 1996 NBA Draft that also yielded Steve Nash and Ray Allen, and even though Iverson’s career ended before Kobe’s, his impact was still great.
Kobe has said that the respect of his peers means more to him than anything else and he has certainly earned that. Current players like Kevin Durant and LeBron James have heaped praise on him, and Iverson has done the same for one of the NBA’s greatest.