The last couple of days have been pretty rough for basketball fans. 8/23 would've been Kobe Bryant's birthday and 8/24 was Mamba Day, so the whole NBA community talked long about his impact on and off the court.
One of the players who always lauded Kobe's skill was Dirk Nowitzki. Not so long ago, he even called him the best offensive player he ever faced:
“Kobe, we tried everything, he was just - you couldn’t stop him. Unguardable," Dirk said on Shot Science Basketball. "So one time we had him in the corner and the shot clock was going down and he was right in front of our bench. Somebody played him from the top side, so he couldn’t turn around over his left shoulder and shoot with the right so he’s kind of like stuck, then he sees the shot clock and he turns around, shoots it with the left, 3-pointer from the corner. We’re all like ‘what?’
"His skill level was unbelievable, there was not one shot that he didn’t have in his repertoire, so to me, in my 20 years, he was probably the best offensive or the best player I’ve faced," Nowitzki concluded.
Dirk and Kobe sure had some epic battles throughout their careers in the league. They fought from start to finish and built incredible legacies for their respective franchises, also becoming two of the league's all-time leading scorers.
Kobe and he always had a good relationship. Mark Cuban once nearly traded for Bryant, and the Lakers made a strong pitch to try and get Dirk as well. Sadly, they were only able to team up in the All-Star Game as perennial Western Conference standouts.
The Black Mamba left us way too soon. It will never feel real. But his legacy will live on forever.