Kobe Bryant was one of the most skilled players in NBA history. Bryant's ability to handle the ball under intense pressure and get exactly what he wanted out of an offensive possession was absolutely spectacular.
Bryant was also incredibly confident in his abilities, as he would take his chances against any player, past or present, and say that he would come out on top.
One player who Kobe Bryant was very close to was none other than Kyrie Irving. Irving got to play against Kobe Bryant for 5 years, and they were even teammates during the 2012 Olympics.
But who would win a game of 1-on-1 between the incredibly skilled guards? Well, according to Kobe Bryant, it would be him. During a 2013 interview with ESPN, Kobe Bryant was asked about several players, past and present, and whether he would beat them 1-on-1.
When Kyrie Irving's name came up, Kobe noted that while he admired Kyrie and they were friends, he would have no problem defeating Kyrie and showing him who is the best:
Interviewer: What about Kyrie Irving?
Kobe Bryant: "[Huge smile, laugh.] Kyrie’s my boy, but he knows he doesn’t have anything for me. He doesn’t want to see me. But it would be fun. I’ve beaten a lot of guys one-on-one, like Reggie Miller and Grant Hill. I used to play Caron Butler all the time in practice when he was with the Lakers. When I was a rookie I used to get Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones. They know. They’ll tell you. They used to come at me hard but I wasn’t having that. I love going one-on-one with someone. That’s what I do. I’ve never lost. It’s a whole different game, just to have them right in front of you and be able to do whatever you want."
Bryant and Irving were very close, with Kyrie looking up to Kobe as a mentor. They were part of the Team USA roster that won the gold medal in London. Irving and Kobe became very close, and Irving seemed to model several aspects of his game after Kobe.
But the two have discussed who would win a 1-on-1 game in other instances, and once even began talking trash to each other when discussing the outcome.