Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett may have had some epic battles in the NBA Finals as bitter rivals while the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics went head-to-head in 2008 and 2010, but there’s nothing but respect between the two veterans.
These veterans are two of only a few players in league history able to play for two decades or more. Garnett is entering his 21st season with the team that drafted him back in 1995 while Bryant will begin his 20th year with the Lakers on Wednesday night.
Kobe was asked about what it’ll be like to face off against Garnett in the season opener after so many years. Bryant said the following about the 39-year-old Garnett, via ESPN’s J.A. Adande.
It’s fantastic. It’s amazing. It brings a smile to my face, man. Because I remember thinking about making my decision [to enter the NBA draft] and speaking on the phone with him, him going through his first season. Now fast forward, his 21st season, my 20th. It’s pretty amazing.”
At this point, it’d be safe to assume both players may retire next summer. Kobe’s contract expires after this season and may simply walk away from the game. Garnett is under contract for one more season after this year, but could forego the $8 million he’s set to make if his body doesn’t hold up.
Regardless of when these basketball icons choose to retire, Wednesday’s game may be the last time they go up against one another on the basketball floor. Both players are basically guaranteed to enter the NBA’s Hall of Fame with a combined total of six championships and an extremely long list of individual accolades.
On Wednesday night, Bryant and Garnett will lead their young teams into battle at the Staples Center. This will be one of four matchups between the Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves throughout the 2015-16 NBA season.