Kobe Bryant was one of the most driven and determined athletes to ever step foot on an NBA court. Bryant always believed in himself and backed himself to become the player he would end up becoming.
A large part of Kobe's success was because of his mentality, and always wanting to learn. And that mentality was in Kobe even before he entered the league, as one of his peers later revealed.
Kevin Garnett, one of Kobe Bryant's biggest rivals on the court, but also his friend off the court, revealed how he met Bryant for the first time. Garnett met Kobe for the first time in his rookie year, after a game he had.
Garnett reached his locker room to find a young Kobe Bryant who was still in high school waiting for him. Kobe kept telling Garnett that he was going to make it into the league and kept asking him questions about what it would take to make it in the NBA.
“My first year, I had to do some press. I come. Locker room is hyped, guys picking up stuff, people getting showers. I saw a kid sitting in my seat and I thought maybe he’s somebody’s son. I said ‘What’s up man, let me get right here?’. He was like ‘What’s up yo, I’m Kobe Bryant, I’m trying to come to the league’. I had just walked in the locker room. Who the f*ck son is this? I’m like ‘let me get right here’. And he goes ‘oh, my fault, my fault, my fault’. He was just like ‘how is it out there? I’m watching it looks fast and-‘. His eyes, he was so intense, and we sat there and we talked for 2 hours, you know for me it was like I had to this, I had to do that, he was just like ‘I’m coming!’.”
Garnett was clearly a little annoyed by the badgering from Kobe, especially after a tough game. But in later years, Bryant would enter the NBA, and immediately establish himself as one of the best players in the league.
Garnett and Kobe competed on a lot of big stages including when Bryant and the Lakers defeated Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2004 Western Conference Finals.
The 2004 MVP would have to wait 4 years and go to a different team to see Bryant in a high-stakes series, facing him in 2 NBA Finals in 2008 and 2010, with both winning one Final each.
The two had a lot of respect for each other, and Garnett also wanted to play with Kobe before he would join the Celtics in 2008. But they played against each other their entire careers and earned each other's respect.