Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant were on-court rivals for much of the early-2000s. The Jason Kidd-led, New Jersey Nets, became one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference in the post-Michael Jordan era. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant was surrounded by a juggernaut Lakers team that is one of the best teams of all time because of him and Shaquille O'Neal.
Kidd's Nets were no match for the Lakers when they met in the 2002 NBA Finals, with the Lakers sweeping the Nets. Naturally, the current Dallas Mavericks head coach had first-hand experience with Kobe Bryant's on-court mentality and shared his insight into the same on 'All The Smoke' with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.
"You talk about Kobe and his competitiveness. It didn't matter how big or small you were, he was going to try and destroy you. That's what separated him from everyone, he was an assassin. He would cut you and by the end of the game you didn't know you were going to bleed out. That's just his mentality. He wanted to win at everything."
Kobe Bryant's On-Court Competitiveness Was Unrivalled
Kidd may have been swept by Kobe in 2002, but he returned the favor in 2011 when he was playing for the 2011 Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers were eyeing a 3-peat after their wins in 2009 and 2010 but were swept by the Texan team who went on to win the only NBA championship of Kidd's playing career.
Kobe's competitive spirit has become a mythical entity. Everyone talks about 'Mamba Mentality' and how Kobe's spirit to be the best at everything was extremely motivating for them. Klay Thompson admitted to reading the Mamba Mentality book during his rehab. Kyrie Irving had a close relationship with Kobe and called the Laker great after winning the 2016 championship.
Other young players like Devin Booker and Jayson Tatum look up to Kobe because of these qualities. People around the world have been looking up to Kobe for the same reason, and that spirit helps everyone keep Kobe's legacy alive and strong.