Kobe Bryant has the upmost respect for arguably one of the best defenders in the NBA, Tony Allen. The two veterans have had many battles in the past during Allen’s time with the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies. Allen’s talent and ability to lockdown some of the league’s elite has not gone unnoticed by the five-time NBA champion.
Kobe recently talked about a short list of players that he respects due to their ability to “max out” their talent. Allen made the list along with LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, and Shane Battier.
Bryant said the following about Allen, according to Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated:
“A big favorite of mine. Just how he plays and what he does.”
Allen was flattered by Kobe’s comments, but did admit that he can’t let the superstar get a competitive edge in his final years in Los Angeles via Ballard:
“Oh man, that’s an honor. From a guy like Kobe, it’s definitely an honor, considering who he is….Don’t want to let that get to me though. Gotta keep my competitive advantage! I get more up for playing him than any other player.”
Allen also gave Kobe one of the biggest compliments possible comparing him to one of the greatest players in NBA history:
“He’s the closest thing to Michael Jordan in my era. Lots of people say this guy or that guy. Nah…I get to be able to live and tell the story that I got to guard that guy.”
As Kobe’s career comes to a close with two years left on his deal with the Lakers, the future Hall of Famer may continue to get these kind of compliments from players he’s gone to battle with over the years.
Brandon Jennings was the most recent player to compare Kobe to Jordan going as far as to call the face of the Lakers franchise “the greatest” over the Chicago Bulls legend. Jennings was adamant about his claim saying that Kobe simply didn’t have the supporting cast that Jordan did during their title runs.
Heading into his 19th season, Kobe has an opportunity to inch closer to Jordan, but few believe he’s got the talent around him or the gas left in the tank to do so. Only time will tell if Kobe can prove his critics wrong once again before calling it a career.
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