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Lakers News: Kobe’s Toughest Opponent Was Tracy McGrady Reviewed by Momizat on . Through seventeen seasons, Kobe Bryant has played against three generations of players from Michael Jordan to Kevin Durant. At the "Kobe Up Close" event hosted Through seventeen seasons, Kobe Bryant has played against three generations of players from Michael Jordan to Kevin Durant. At the "Kobe Up Close" event hosted Rating:
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Lakers News: Kobe’s Toughest Opponent Was Tracy McGrady

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Los Angeles Lakers

Through seventeen seasons, Kobe Bryant has played against three generations of players from Michael Jordan to Kevin Durant.

At the “Kobe Up Close” event hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, Bryant discussed the toughest players he’s ever played against. He mentioned Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant — but none were tougher than Tracy McGrady:

“The guy that always gave me the most problems was Tracy McGrady. He had all the skills and all the athleticism, but he was 6’9 and he was very tough to figure out.”

For a couple of seasons, there were constant debates on who the best player in the NBA was between Kobe and McGrady. Unfortunately, McGrady dealt with numerous injuries and never adjusted his game as he lost his athleticism. Bryant maintained his high level of play while McGrady was most recently a benchwarmer for the San Antonio Spurs.

It’s also interesting to note that Bryant didn’t mention LeBron James as one of the toughest players he’s ever played against.

However, it’s understandable considering how LeBron is rather predictable on the offensive end as Michael Jordan once mentioned. James tends to drive to the basket on the right side of the court and settles for jump shots on the left side, which was on full display when Bryant successfully blocked him twice at the 2013 All-Star Game.

Kobe has played against hundreds of players throughout his career and it’s no surprise that his toughest opponents are players who have an array of offensive moves to go along with their respective quickness, length, or power.

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About The Author

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Dan Duangdao is the Senior Editor of Lakers Nation.

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  • DD

    T-MAC!

  • Jim213

    I was thinking Bruce Bowen (Spurs) he’d often be on Kobe’s face literally FACE though Kobe would still get the shot off mostly but it often led to those “how did he do that moments” for KB24.

    • jwbulldogs

      Bruce Bowen was media built. Not a real challenge for Kobe. He was probably one of the dirtiest cheap shot artist that ever tried to guard Kobe. Kobe still did him in.

      • Jim213

        ??? One of the greatest defensive players in NBA history, but like I mentioned KB24 did mostly have his way though difficult. Although, KB24 states McGrady was his toughest defensive opponent during whatever a certain point, can’t compare Bowen’s career to Mc Grady’s injury prone career.

        • jwbulldogs

          Bowens is more known for being the dirtiest player in the game. The media hyped him against Kobe. He got away with grabbing, tripping and doing anything that he could get away with trying to slow down Kobe. But Kobe still got the job done. T-Mac IMO was a great player. I think he could have been one of the best. But injuries did hurt him. But Kobe would always outplay him when they matched up. There may be a game or two when T-Mac outscored Kobe, but that wasn’t because he scored them on Kobe. When Kobe took over the defensive assignment he completely outclassed T-Mac. After the game the commentators would talk to Kobe about matching up against T-Mac. He often told the story of how Phil didn’t want him to go against Tracy. But in the time out he demanded that he guard him. They were worried that Kobe offense would suffer if he had to work that hard on defense. Then they would talk about how many points Kobe held T-Mac to when he guarded him. T-Mac still put up some numbers in those games, but not while Kobe was on him. I recall watching the Bowens match ups and couldn’t understand why the refs didn’t use their whistles. He should have be thrown out. There is video footage when Kobe said defensively that Bowens was the hardest player for him to go against. He has said that about Melo, and now T-Mac. Speaking of T-Mac I felt bad for him this year. They did not even give him no clock. I think after all of his years of outstanding play when healthy he deserved better than that.

  • jwbulldogs

    Kobe hardest player to play against was not T-Mac. He often destroyed TMac on the defensive end and offensive end. I recall games that they didn’t want Kobe to guard Tracy hoping to save his energy for offense. But Tracy was having a good game and Kobe would switch to guard Tracy and shut him down and was able to continue scoring. It was beautiful. But the one player that I saw manhandle Kobe was Melo. He had hos was with Kobe. Kobe could not physically handle the much stronger, physical Melo. I gained a new respect for Melo after watching him look like man playing against a small child vs Kobe. Kobe put forth the effort in posting up and trying to deny Melo in the post. But clearly is was a huge mismatch. Melo did a lot of damage to Kobe in the post.

    • mkp

      what? you know Kobe more than himself???? he said tracy mcgrady..just respect that..dont put words on kobe’s mouth…peace!

      • Paytc

        mkp,
        I agree. Kobe would know who he had the hardest time with.That said neither T-mac or Melo have had the type of career Kobe has had. So that’s really all that needs to be said.kobe should have the last word on who he thinks was his toughest opponent was/is not any non NBA player or critic.

    • icesco415

      Your so stupid. You know tmac got more blks on kobe than any other player. You know tmac scored the most pts on kobe than any other player. You know when it comes down to counting the number of shots they performed on eachother. Tmac had better fg%. Know your facts.

      • jwbulldogs

        Block are part of the game. Tmac scoring is not on Kobe. It was on the Lakers. When you are knowledgeable about the game you know the difference. TMac scored a lot of points. Kobe switched to guarding him even though Phil didn’t initially want that. Kobe said he could hand it without sacrificing his offense and he did what he said. Kobe tried the same thing against Melo. Kobe couldn’t slow Melo. As you can tell from the video he was manhandled by Melo on every phase. Those are the facts. LOL When will children learn.

        • icesco415

          everything is part of the game stupid. blks were on kobe though. 5 times. t-mac did score on kobe. i counted as much possible pts t-mac did in one game where he scored 38 without free throws t-mac dropped 23 pts on kobe on a 11/17 shooting. if i count free throws is damn near 30. name any player who dropped that much on kobe by 1 person in a single game? kobe most he dropped on t-mac was 16 pts. 8/16 shooting. they shot same amount of times practically. thats just 1 game. you want me to give you more? i will love to give you more on my facts over yours.

          • jwbulldogs

            Spoken like a 10 year old that don;t know the game. Kobe never guards T-Mac for the game but ever time he did he completely outplayed him offensively and defensively. T-Mac scored the majority of his points before Kobe would switch and begin to guard him. Even then he doesn’t stay on him the entire time. Kobe only guards him for so many minutes. You are really making yourself look bad. All that said Kobe after being manhandled by Melo in the playoff was never allowed to guard him again during that series as he was not effective. But he always got the assignment to shut down T-mac especially if it was a closeout game.

          • icesco415

            25 years old by the way. so i witnessed kobe guarding t-mac and t-mac guarding kobe. if kobe out played t-mac defensively and offensively. why does t-mac have more blks on kobe than kobe on t-mac. why does t-mac score more points on kobe than kobe scores on t-mac. you obliviously don’t watch t-mac play with kobe. in case you didn’t know they are friends before nba times. and trained with eachother that’s why they play so equivalent. watch my video on youtube “tracy mcgrady vs kobe bryant highlights” by icesco415 nonthing but defense and offense on eachother with both misses and makes and drawing fouls. it shows t-mac got more blks, more buck its, and made kobe miss more. so watch my video and let it do the talking. since you say kobe never guards t-mac or t-mac never gaurds kobe. smh.

          • jwbulldogs

            25..LOL I have shoes older than that. Name calling like calling someone stupid that you don’t know is a lack of maturity. It is something preteen adolescence do. Your video is missing. Blocks are okay, but it is not the best indicator of good defense on a player. It is not a measuring stick of good defense. It is something you want out of your centers more than you want out of other positions. I can speak on this as a person that has played the game and coach the game. Try rereading my post. I never said they don’t guard one another. Kobe does not or didn’t begin games as T-Mac primary defender. He would later switch to guard T-Mac. Once he switch T-Mac number dropped. He didn’t have great games against Kobe. He had great games or number against the Lakers until Kobe switched to him. But when T-Mac guards Kobe Kobe still outplayed T-Mac offensively and defensively. This was while T-Mac was still a all star player. This doesn’t negate that T-Mac was a great player. He just was out played by Kobe. But Kobe did that to everyone. But the one person that he didn’t outplay was Melo. Because Melo owned Kobe he was never given the assignment again to guard Melo for that many minutes again. Sure he will end up against him on a switch, but not as a primary assignment.

            T-Mac is a 6’8 Forward he should have more blocks on a 6’6 Shooting guard. Shooting guards don’t normally have the primary assignment to guard forwards. But Kobe often gets an assignment to guard the opposing team best offensive player. Of course this was prior to MWP. Kobe asked to guard T-mac, but Phil said no. But after being torched b T-mac Kobe insisted during a timeout to guard him. Once Phil allowed the switch T-Mac scoring went down while Kobe maintained his scoring. Both missed and made shots, but Kobe made more. T-Mac had to give up the ball or force a bad shot. T-Mac best offense against Kobe often came with good team help. T-mac used screens to get open. Kobe often went Isolation against Tracy and owned him. Of course you know highlights don’t tell the whole story?

            2 0 0 5

            T-Mac: FG 6/16, 20 Pts, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

            Kobe: FG 6/13, 24 Pts, 6 Ast, 2 Stls

            2 0 0 7

            T-Mac: FG 7/24, 30 Pts, 10 Ast

            Kobe: FG 19/44, 53 Pts, 2 Ast

            2 0 0 7

            T-Mac: FG 10/20, 30 pts, 4 Ast

            Kobe: FG 13/32, 45pts, 4 Ast, 4 Stls, 1 Blk

            2 0 0 8

            T-Mac: FG 4/16, 11 Pts, 6 Ast

            Kobe: FG 11/33, 24 Pts, 2 Ast

            2 0 1 1

            T-Mac: FG 5/8, 14 Pts, 6 Ast, 1 Blk

            Kobe: FG 6/18, 18 Pts, 8 Ast, 1Stl

          • icesco415

            hahahahah. well 1 thing is melo is small foward/power foward. t-mac is shooting guard/small foward. it will make more sense for kobe to rather guard someone his position then someone who is not. that’s like saying put t-mac small foward to guard a power foward. and power foward will give t-mac a hard time because thats not his natural position. so your fact is invalid. second those stats you gave proves nothing. those are stats against the team not on eachother. just like you mentioned. “mcgrady scored majority of his point until kobe switched to guard him.” in case you didn’t noticed. they both guarded eachother as equal number of times. now can i provide you true stats when both are actually defending on eachother?

            2000 Allstar- t-mac blocks kobe
            2001:t-mac Fg:1/1 2 pts,1blk, Kobe 2/4 4 pts

            2002: t-mac 11/18 23 pts, kobe 8/16 16 pts 2 TO 1 Blk

            2002 Allstar: t-mac blocks kobe.

            2004:t-mac 3/7 7 pts 1 TO, Kobe:4/4 9 pts 1 Blk
            2005:t-mac 0/0, kobe 0/1
            2005 2nd: t-mac 1/1 3 pts 1 blk, Kobe 1/2 3pts (lots of fouls on eachother so didn’t count the rest of shots)
            2007:t-mac 2/2 4 pts 1 blk, kobe 0/1
            2007 2nd: t-mac 5/5 10 pts, kobe 3/3 7 pts
            2007 3rd: t-mac 2/2 4 pts, kobe 1/1 2 pts
            2008:t-mac 1/1 2 pts, kobe 0/0
            2008 2nd: t-mac 0/1, kobe 1/1 2 pts 1 blk
            2011: t-mac 3/4 7 pts 1 TO, kobe 1/2 2 pts
            TOTAL: t-mac 62 pts 29/42=69%, kobe: 45 pts 21/37= 56%
            WITHOUT FREE THROWS

            HAHAHAH. yeah kobe kept t-mac from shooting good. looks like t-mac played more defense on kobe.lmfao. again i have all the stats and facts. i dont speak with opinion. however, i am missing 7 games though.

          • jwbulldogs

            Note: It’s not worth wasting my time to continue to respond.

          • icesco415

            exactly. facts will always win over someone’s opinion. most likely if you was to argue over what i just wrote. then your just stubborn and don’t want to accept the fact. but you made a good choice. melo?lmfao. out of the whole career you talk about 1 playoff game.lmfao. stupid

    • tmc14121

      dude kobe clearly stated that tracy mcgrady was his toughest match up… why would you argue against that i dnt understand.. it doesnt get any straight forward then that….your embarrassing your self!

      • jwbulldogs

        Kobe also said that he Roasted T-Mac. It is one thing to say something and another things for it to be true. Nothing against T-Mac. He was one of the best offensive players in the league. Injuries took its toll on him.

        • icesco415

          t-mac also said it wasn’t true. so someone is lying. also. kobe stated that he was 20 years old. that makes t-mac 19. just on his way to sophomore year. while kobe was on his way to his third year. t-mac had no game yet. so even if it was true. it doesn’t matter. kobe never played t-mac one on one at his best.

  • kingsuperman

    Yeah I do remember when tmac broke Kobe’s ankles and crossed him up into them cheerleaders…….Kobe shouldn’t call him the toughest opponent but the guy who got the best of him!!! Lol

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