It is widely known that Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest players basketball has ever seen.
Over his 20-year career, he showed off a number of different skills and dominated many facets of the game.
According to Tracy McGrady, who crossed paths with Bryant several times in the NBA, the Lakers legend is the greatest 1-on-1 player of All-Time.
Here’s what he said in a chat with BroBible:
“Outside of myself, I’m going with Kobe. He was a 1-on-1 basketball player, that was his style, that’s what he brought to the game of basketball. That's why he was so good."
If Bryant were alive today, he'd probably agree with his former colleague. Years ago, Bryant was on record saying he could beat LeBron James 1-on-1 'in his sleep.'
"I’d win, I’d win. That’s what I do. One on one is... that’s easy for me, you know. Playing one on one is how I grew up playing, it’s like my thing. LeBron is more like a Magic Johnson, he’s a great passer and plays an all-around game. At the core of me, I’m a one on one player. I’d do that in my sleep.”
Of course, T-Mac knows more than most what Kobe was capable of. He rose to fame in Orlando, where he made his first All-Star team in 2001. By that point, Kobe had already won his first title with Shaquille O’Neal and was on his way to winning two more.
Interestingly, McGrady nearly became a part of that team back in 1998.
As the Lakers' longtime roster architect, West was famously smitten by the predraft workout performance that Bryant, then 17, unleashed against the longtime Lakers defensive standout Michael Cooper, who was an assistant coach by that point. As Harris tells it, Tracy McGrady had an even more impressive audition for the Lakers one year later, prompting West to make a brief but serious push to try to acquire McGrady's draft rights and team him with O'Neal and Bryant.
"McGrady came in the next year with a more mature body and worked out so well that Jerry kind of tooled around with the idea that maybe we should just go ahead and make a deal for whatever it took to get this guy — even though it'd be a step back in the short term — to have two guys like this on the same team."
Obviously, the pairing never happened, and the two would stay “rivals” until the end of their careers.
Still, even McGrady cannot deny how dominant Kobe was at basketball, and at 1-on-1 matchups especially. Bryant, who scored over 33,000 points in his career, was unguardable in his prime and stands today as a prime example of offensive brilliance.
He retired in 2016 as an 18x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ, 15x All-NBA player, 12x All-Defensive player, and 5x NBA Champion.