Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant entered the NBA at the same time, and many fans started plenty of comparisons between them. They had a similar mindset on the court, trying to do everything in their power to lead their respective teams to victories, although things were very different when the game was over.
Kobe always tried to get better after every game, while Iverson had a complex relationship with practice. They clashed against each other in the 2001 NBA Finals, with Bryant beating AI to win his second of the five championships.
Although they were big rivals during the 2000s, Kobe and Iverson developed an excellent relationship, and AI has always shown how much he cared and loved the Los Angeles Lakers late icon. During a recent interview with Shaun Powell of NBA.com, the 2001 NBA MVP revealed the last time he saw the Black Mamba.
“That’s crazy you asked me that,” he said. “Nobody ever asked me. I never even thought about it. Well, matter fact, I know now. At his jersey retirement. Last time I saw him. I remember hugging him. He had his baby in his arms, his youngest daughter. That’s wild.
“So the same with Kobe, he was here today and all of a sudden that has to happen to his family, has to happen to us, we have to try to get through it the best way we can. We try to think like they’re in a better place. We try to do anything to make it feel better. That’s why my life is how it is. I live every day.”
Iverson has suffered a lot in his life. He has lost people that were close to him, and Kobe was a big addition to that sad list. The Black Mamba left a huge void when he was killed in a fatal helicopter accident in January 2020.
Just like Allen, the rest of the NBA world felt the loss of one of the biggest icons in history. Kobe's jersey retirement ceremony took place in December 2017, three years before his tragic passing. It is a shame that busy schedules didn't allow him and Iverson to meet one more time before his life was cut short.
Still, the moments they lived together as rivals and friends will never be forgotten. They were two of the most influential players of all time and had immense respect for each other.