During his near-two decades in the NBA, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers has faced his fair share of lockdown defenders. Plenty of players in the past have tried to figure out the formula to contain arguably one of the greatest offensive players in NBA history with few having any success against the five-time NBA champion.
Many of the defenders Bryant has faced throughout his career hoped to earn the distinction as a ‘Kobe Stopper’ after their battles on the court. It seems as though only one player sticks out to Kobe among his many fierce opponents of the past that deserve the distinction.
Veteran guard Tony Allen has left a considerable impression on Bryant for how he’s defended the superstar over the years. Bryant said the following about Allen when being asked by TNT’s Ernie Johnson who came the closest to being the ‘Kobe Stopper’ via Bleacher Report:
“Well, the player I had the most trouble with, individually, was always Tony Allen. Always.”
Although Allen appears to be the toughest defender Bryant has faced throughout his career, there’s a few others that seem to be in a select group of defenders that posed some challenges for the future Hall of Famer:
“Bruce Bowen was a great defender. Bruce is a great defensive player. Raja Bell was a great defensive player.”
“Ruben Patterson did a great job. But Tony Allen played one-on-one defense. He never funneled me anywhere. His job was to stay in front of me and just hound me the entire game.”
Apparently, Allen and the three other lockdown defenders mentioned have earned Bryant’s respect. Kobe has faced two decades worth of players gunning for him and doing everything within their power to contain the superstar, but it seems as though Allen was the cream of the crop.
Allen did a great job guarding Bryant during the 2008 NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics went on to beat the Lakers that year in six games. Bryant was able to avenge that series loss in the Finals two years later beating the Celtics in seven games to win his fifth and seemingly final NBA title.