As one of the greatest players in NBA history, Kobe Bryant became an icon and a basketball God for entire generations of basketball fans. We saw Kobe grow before our very eyes from a young kid out of high school coming off the bench with the Lakers in 1996 into a 5-time NBA champion and one of the 10 greatest players to ever play the game. Over his career, Bryant had some fierce rivalries like the ones with Paul Pierce, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Bruce Bowen, and much more. Today, we will focus on the matchups between Bryant and his rivals that he never lost a game against in his career.
These matchups will not be as shocking and jaw-dropping as you might expect from a player the caliber of Kobe Bryant. These records do indicate which players and teams he dominated in his career. With the proper context added, you can get a pretty good glimpse into the schemes and personnel that Bryant thrived against when opposed by them. En route to becoming the Kobe Bryant we know today, a lot of opponents had to succumb to his combination of skills and the ultimate will to win.
Kobe graced the hardwood for 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers and accumulated 1,346 games played in his entire career. In those 1,346 games, Bryant recorded a win-loss record of 836 wins and 510 losses. Bryant accumulated a career-winning percentage of 62.1%, which ranks among the elite all-time great players. Kobe Bryant’s thirst to claim victory resulted in a career of 5 NBA championships, 2 Finals MVP awards, 1 MVP award, 18 All-Star selections, and 15 All-NBA Team selections.
In his career, Kobe Bryant holds an undefeated record against 282 different players. Today’s list will consist of some of the best individual undefeated records in his career. We will add context to Bryant’s particular matchups and the numbers he produced while claiming victory repeatedly over these opponents. By no means do these undefeated records mean anything when you solely view them from an individual lens, but it certainly makes for some interesting conversation
*Condition: Players must have played at least 9 games vs. Kobe Bryant to qualify for this list*
Kobe Bryant’s Best Records vs. Individual Opponents
12-0 vs. Billy Owens
12-0 vs. Tyrone Nesby
10-0 vs. Nikola Pekovic
10-0 vs. Josh Powell
10-0 vs. Keith Closs
10-0 vs. Rodney Carney
9-0 vs. Brook Lopez
9-0 vs. Chucky Brown
9-0 vs. Dominic McGuire
9-0 vs. James Robinson
Kobe Bryant’s best individual record comes against 2 different players during his career. The first of these players is Billy Owens, who Bryant faced off with early in his career. Bryant squared off against Owens and the Kings 8 times from 1996 through 1998. Of these 12 games between them, Bryant made 4 starts and averaged 15.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.2 APG. Owens also went up against Bryant as a member of the SuperSonics, Warriors, and Pistons during the 2000 season. In the 2 games that Bryant and Owens faced off when Owens was in Detroit, Bryant took it to Jerry Stackhouse with games of 26 points and 39 points, respectively.
The other player that Bryant holds a perfect 12-0 record against Tyrone Nesby. As a starter for the 1999 and 2000 Los Angeles Clippers, Nesby faced off with Bryant’s Lakers 10 times. Nesby held his own with multiple 20-point performances against Bryant, but the Clippers could never muster a victory. Bryant, on the other hand, started all 12 games against Nesby and averaged 19.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 4.8 APG on 48.6% shooting. Nesby and Bryant also faced off with Nesby on the Wizards during the 2002 season. Bryant struggled in these 2 games, going for 23 points and 14 points on below 47.0% shooting.
Bryant’s next best-undefeated records come in at 10-0 against 4 different players in his career. Nikola Pekovic is 0-10 vs. Kobe Bryant in his career, with all 10 games coming when he was with the Timberwolves from 2010 through 2013. Bryant made 10 starts and averaged 28.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 4.4 APG. Pekovic started 7 of the 10 games and averaged 11.8 PPG and 7.2 RPG. Bryant dominated the Minnesota backcourt of Luke Ridnour and Ricky Rubio at this time, taking advantage of several mismatches during the early 2010s.
Josh Powell is the next player that Kobe Bryant was, all 10 meetings between the two. Powell was a journeyman big man during the late 200s and early 2010s who made appearances against Bryant with the Mavericks, Warriors, Clippers, and Hawks. Powell was never s starter for any of these contests and averaged just 12.7 minutes of playing time. Bryant averaged 31.7 PPG against Powell’s teams which includes 2 40-point games against Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Jason Richardson, and the Golden State Warriors.
Keith Closs and Kobe Bryant faced off 10 times between 1997 and 2000 when Closs was with the Los Angeles Clippers. Closs barely saw the floor, with just 14.5 minutes per game on average, while Bryant made only 6 starts during this time. Bryant was a 16.6 PPG scorer vs. the Clippers over this time period, with 4 20-point games. Closs played just 3 years in the NBA, from 1998 through 2000 and made just 7 starts in 130 appearances. In 69 career games against the Clippers, Bryant registered a record of 47-22.
The final opponent that Kobe Bryant was all 10 games against in his career was Rodney Carney. Carney played just 5 seasons in the NBA from 2007 through 2011. He appeared in 299 career games with 49 starts for the 76ers, Warriors, Grizzlies, and Timberwolves. Around this time, Bryant was playing some of the best basketball in his career and led the Lakers to back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. In 10 games against Carney’s teams, Bryant averaged 23.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 4.9 APG on 47.8% shooting.
Kobe Bryant’s Record Against Other Notable NBA Rivals
Since his retirement, Kobe Bryant has been compared extensively with the other greats of his era. One of those names is the legendary Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs and Lakers had some epic battles during Bryant and Duncan’s careers. Duncan and the Spurs hold a slight advantage over Bryant’s Lakers with a 43-39 record. Another great power forward that Kobe battled in his career was Kevin Garnett. Bryant’s Lakers held a significant advantage over Garnett’s teams with a 45-31 record.
Let’s talk about some of the other great shooting guards at the time. Manu Ginobili’s Spurs teams were a nice 32-21 against Bryant and the Lakers when the 2 squared off. Bryant held a steady 29-21 record over Ray Allen’s Bucks, SuperSonics, and Celtics teams. Bryant was also famous for his performances against the early 2000s Kings teams that challenged them for NBA supremacy. When Kings legend Chris Webber was in the lineup, Bryant held a slight 23-17 advantage over Sacramento as well.
Credit the source: Basketball Reference
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