This NBA season was rocked by tragedy and crisis unlike any other. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the China controversy was one of the saddest days in NBA history: the tragic death of Kobe Bryant.
While the entire NBA community is still in mourning at the passing of a legend, few took it harder than Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who looked up to Bryant as a friend and role-model. Amid the current NBA hiatus, Irving had some time to share stories -- and one of them happened to be of an encounter between Ky and the Mamba in 2012.
"I get it at the top of the key and I hear the crowd, and the crowd is like, they're all erupting silently," Irving said. "Then everybody starts clapping like, 'Ooh yeah!' and it's at the top of the key. Now, what does that remind you of? Back in the city, back in Jersey when you get into that moment, this is your time. So I get at the top of the key and I make a move, he stutters a little bit, and I spin -- and when I spun, this dude was waiting for that and he punched that shit. He punched it! He punched it, bro! He punched it! ... I sized Kobe up. But it was the crowd. It was the crowd. It was the crowd. The crowd got me.
"At this point, I'mma see him in a little bit, like, I'mma play him one-on-one in heaven, we good. Imma get him back."
It's always a treat to hear Kobe stories, especially ones we've never heard before. It's clear that even back then, Irving had a ton of respect for the Mamba. Why wouldn't he?
Like Irving, Kobe was dedicated and committed to his craft. And he's holding out hope that one day, they'll get to play each other again.