Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant are two of the toughest players the NBA has ever seen. The two legends shared the court on several occasions, going at it with everything they had to get the win.
They clashed twice in the NBA Finals, splitting victories in 2008 and 2010. They were fierce competitors, but also great friends off the court. Garnett and Bryant had the utmost respect for each other after starting a friendship during the former's rookie year in the league.
It's not a secret that Kobe was very incisive when he tried to achieve something. While KG was in his rookie season, Bryant demonstrated it to The Big Ticket, approaching him and talking to the player like they were long-time friends. Talking on the ‘Million Dollaz Worth of Game’ podcast, Garnett recalled his first interaction with KB24 (20:45).
“Kobe was crazy man, this is a crazy story,” he said. "I remember playing, I had a decent game, this is in April. So we’re going home, we’re making no playoffs, my first year, I had a better second half than first half. I come in, I had to do some press, so I come in and the locker room’s going crazy you know, it’s just everywhere. The equipment, guys picking up stuff, people getting showers going like this. So I saw a kid sitting in my seat and I thought maybe somebody’s son. So I was like what’s up get right here? He [Kobe] was like what’s up yo what’s up, I’m Kobe Bryant, I’m trying to come to the league. And I had just walked into the locker room like who the f*ck’s son is this?”
As KG explained, Kobe wasn't a regular man. He was focused on becoming somebody in the league and wouldn't rest until he fulfilled that. Garnett was one of those players that went to the NBA straight from high school. Kobe wanted to do the same, so, naturally, he wanted to link up with somebody who did it first.
After that, they developed a good relationship, becoming good friends. They even planned on teaming up in Los Angeles in 2007, but Garnett took a completely different route, landing in Boston to join the Celtics. That move didn't please Kobe, who blasted him after learning about the trade.
Garnett has revealed he often wonders how he would have fared playing alongside Kobe, but that's something we'll never know. Bryant made a big impression with Garnett, who put him on his ideal starting lineup.
The respect between these two was huge and nothing changed even after KG teamed up with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen at TD Garden.