Former Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in NBA history, and gave his fair share of buckets to players across the league for the entirety of his 20-year career, Kenyon Martin among them.
Bryant beat Martin’s New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals in 2002, and knocked off his Denver Nuggets in the 2009 Western Conference Finals. Both of which likely factored into Martin telling Kevin Garnett on “Area 21” that Bryant was the player he hated playing against the most during the course of his NBA career for reasons that had nothing to do with his transcendent talent.
Martin said that what he hated most about the occasions he got switched onto Bryant wasn’t that he couldn’t contain him, it was that he couldn’t even phase him:
“I couldn’t rattle him. There’s a lot of people I can get up under their skin, I could bump, push, hold, grab, do my thing, but him, he was just like ‘It’s whatever.'”
The full exchange can be watched courtesy of the show’s Twitter account:
— KG's Area 21 (@KGArea21) January 12, 2018
Martin was far from the only player in NBA history to try and fail to get under Bryant’s skin. From Ron Artest trying to trash talk and toss him around in the playoffs, to Raja Bell undercutting him at every opportunity and even eventual teammate Matt Barnes memorably pump faking an inbounds pass at an unflinching Bryant’s face, plenty of players’ attempts to shake Bryant were proved futile.
That unshakable confidence and drive were part of what made Bryant so great, and also likely made Martin far from the only player whose careers overlapped with Bryant’s to hate playing against him. Bryant’s five titles and endless scoring cascades made it so that list is likely a long one.
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