Kobe Bryant was one of the most skilled offensive players in NBA history. The late Los Angeles Lakers legend starred in some memorable moments during his remarkable 20-year tenure in the league, having some nemesis during the process. While some people just liked the trash talk Kobe, others just focused on the work and tried to stop him on the court, which almost never happened.
One of those who tried to be as low-key as possible was Shane Battier, who never made a lot of noise, especially when he went against Kobe. He just took care of guarding Bryant and never talked bad about him, trying to avoid getting Kobe mad and having the Black Mamba drop 40 or 50 on him.
During an interview on Showtime's Forgotten Seasons, Battier recalled his battles with Kobe in the 2009 NBA playoffs. The Houston Rockets faced off against the Los Angeles Lakers, being the only team that took the Purple and Gold to seven games during that championship run, with Battier playing his part in that.
Talking about his duels with KB24, Shane revealed that he tried to keep a low profile and never made any comments that would make Kobe angry, but Bryant knew he was just playing games and attacked him.
"Ron [Artest] was calling Kobe out, I took the complete opposite approach. I've never ever said I could guard Kobe, and I wanted to be the most passive guy, like I had an ego, I wasn't selfless, I knew I was a good defender, and I knew what my skills were, but I knew if I fired that guy up, that's bad news for me. So I went out of my way and said, 'oh man, Kobe just missed shots, he just had a bad game, it wasn't me'. But Kobe knew that, and Kobe actually wrote a page in his book 'Mamba Mentality' about me, and he said, 'look, Shane never admitted he could guard me, he downplayed his skills, but I saw through that false humility and attacked him because of it,' and I read that after he passed and started crying and laughing at the same time. I was like, 'yes, that's exactly what I was trying to do!" So, the battle of Kobe and I was like the game within the game within the game within the game."
Kobe was too smart to not realize that Battier was just trying to play cool while doing everything in his power to stop the 5x NBA champion. They really went at it during that series, with the Rockets giving their all to beat the eventual champions, but things didn't go in their favor. In the end, Battier and co. lost that series, but he definitely earned Kobe's respect for his heroics.