After six seasons with the Golden State Warriors, Andre Iguodala was surprisingly traded to the Memphis Grizzlies at the start of 2019 NBA free agency.
The Warriors fell short in their quest for a three-peat at the large hands of Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals. As a result, Leonard has now firmly thrust his name into the discussion for being considered the best player in the league.
Iguodala has since fielded his fair share of interesting questions this offseason. This time, he was asked whether or not Leonard had become more difficult to defend than LeBron James.
While Iguodala may have sided with James, he also made sure to include that Kobe Bryant ranks above both of them during an appearance on CNBC:
“LeBron’s able to make all his teammates… take them to another level in terms of their play. He enhances all his teammates like no other player I’ve ever seen. LeBron’s able to do that and get 30 points, which kind of makes you scared to help so it’s kind of like you’re on an island with him. But overall, Kobe Bryant is the hardest I had to guard.”
Iguodala’s praise is indicative of the kind of respect Bryant still garners throughout the league despite being well into his retirement. It is safe to say that Iguodala’s comments also carry plenty of weight considering he is one of the few players still around that have actually been tasked with the assignment of guarding each player at one point or another throughout his career.
There is no question that the 35-year-old has spent plenty of time trying to find ways to contain the aforementioned names. He had been the primary defender on James for four straight NBA Finals before he found himself in familiar territory against Leonard this time around.
Regardless, it appears they pale in comparison to the things that Bryant was capable of doing from an offensive standpoint. At this point in Iguodala’s career, it may be too late for any player to convince him otherwise.
Although James and Leonard may not be as difficult to defend in his opinion, Iguodala’s comments are still telling of the respect he has for their offensive prowess. After all, Bryant is considered to be one of the greatest scorers in league history and his track record with such feats solidify that notion.