It’s been a year since Kobe Bryant was killed in a fatal helicopter crash in Calabasas, California when he was traveling with his daughter Gianna and seven other people to a basketball game. That was an incredibly painful tragedy for the NBA world and after a year of the event, everybody wanted to pay homage to the Black Mamba and they did it a great way.
ESPN’s Rachel Nichols got to work and asked plenty of NBA stars how they felt and what it was like the first time they faced Kobe Bryant on the court. Big players like Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Draymond Green and Carmelo Anthony, among others, recalled their first experience going against the 5x NBA champion on the court.
What was it like to step onto the court against Kobe for very the first time? I spent weeks asking dozens of NBA players that question and wow, the stories that came out from Steph, LeBron, KD, Melo, John Wall, Kyrie, James Harden, Kyle Lowry, Draymond, Paul George & so many more pic.twitter.com/iUMQVfhnDI
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) January 26, 2021
Of course, that wasn’t an easy question to answer; Kobe meant a lot for plenty of players and these weren’t the exception. Many of them grew up idolizing him and facing him on the court was a complete experience.
Melo couldn’t believe he was actually sharing the court with Kobe, while LeBron said he “was in awe” with the Black Mamba, who would later become one of his best friends.
“To be able to share the floor with him, it was like -for any kid, it has to be an inspiring moment,” James revealed.
More players like DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving couldn’t believe who they were watching. They were shocked during their first game against the legend and that was a great moment for them.
Curry revealed he had to guard Kobe at some point during their first game and the man was just trying to destroy everybody to get the victory.
“Rookie coming in and the look he gave me was so damn disrespectful,” Steph said.
Melo recalled that Kobe was putting attention to what he did on the court, trying to find out how good or bad he was.
“He was just testing me. He was just testing to see what type of mentality I have, and he was just testing me to see who I was, as a person and what I stood for,” Carmelo remembers about his first game.
Kevin Durant said he always tried to study Kobe’s game and even though he never told him that, he tried to copy Kobe during his first years in the league.
Every player had great things to say about Kobe and how impactful he was for them. When he died, all of them felt that a father, a big brother had died. As Curry said, he was their Jordan and his loss is still incredibly hard to bear. Kobe’s legacy will live through these players and everything they do on the court.