Every now and again, a current or former NBA player will come out and pay Kobe Bryant a pretty nice compliment. Even if they’ve been through many heated battles over the years, the pros still know when to give out props when a fellow player deserves it.
That’s exactly what Shane Battier did earlier this year during a live ESPN broadcast.
Battier, who played for four NBA teams during his career and won two championships with the Miami Heat, recalled how tough it was to guard Bryant and said the Black Mamba was “the best” player he ever went up against.
“Kobe is the best that I ever played against and I enjoyed every single battle with him,” Battier said. “You just have to make a guy like that work. A guy like Kobe Bryant, you have to make them work and understand he’s gonna hit tough shots.
“But you want to make him prove that every single night. I had a little trick, I used to put my hand right in [Kobe’s] line of vision. I don’t think he liked that too often. He’d never admit it. But he spent more time and energy trying to prove that that method didn’t work and took a bunch of long two-point jumpers, so in the end my plan worked. But, there’s nothing better than trying to stop the world’s greatest.”
As most Laker fans will be able to remember, Battier was always one of the best defenders in the league when it came to trying to slow Bryant down.
Here’s a look at Battier’s superb defense on Bryant during that epic seven game series against the Houston Rockets back in 2009 – and yes, Kobe’s makes have been edited out of this particular video:
Still, despite Battier’s great defense in that series, the Lakers came out on top and Bryant ended up averaging 27.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.3 blocks while shooting 45 percent from the field through seven games.
That’s probably why Battier says he’s the greatest he ever played against.