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Not Jordan nor O'Neal, the NBA star that made Kobe Bryant to reach his potential

By James Brown

Kobe Bryant became the greatest Laker of all time and one of the NBA best, but the player that pushed him to his limits wasn't Shaquille O'Neal or MJ

Kobe Bryant became the greatest Laker of all time and one of the NBA best, but the player that pushed him to his limits wasn't Shaquille O'Neal or MJ

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Today is what would've been the 45th Birthday of the late Kobe Bryant, the greatest LA Lakers legend the franchise has ever seen, and in honor of his memory, we'll tell the story of the player who made Kobe the legend he is known today.

Kobe Bryant was the No. 13 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, and the No. 1 selection was Allen Iverson. With Iverson having a great rookie year while Bryant had a discrete first season, because of him jumping from high school straight to the NBA, the black mamba was jealous of all the attention Allen was getting.

Between 1997 and 1999, Kobe and Iverson faced each other three times, and the three games were victories for Allen's 76ers. Not only did the losses hurt Kobe, but Iverson scored 31 points in the first two games and 41 points in the third one plus 10 assists. Kobe's ego was hurt and he started to do his research on Allen's street basketball.

Kobe accepted years later that he became so obsessed with defeating Iverson that he read every article and book on the matter, watched every single game Alle had played, and studied his success and struggles. Bryant went to seek any weakness that he could find in the 76ers star.

That obsession to be the best then became known as the Mamba Mentality, as Iverson pushed the Lakers legend to places that neither Michael Jordan nor his teammate Shaquille O'Neal did. On February 20, 2000, Phil Jackson made Kobe guard Iverson. "I wanted him to feel the frustration I felt," said Kobe in an interview on the matter. Allen had scored 16 points in the first half, he didn't score a single point in the rest of the game.

Kobe Bryant's legacy transcends the Basketball court

Not only Kobe was able to win five championship titles with the Lakers and become a Hall of Famer, but the black mamba has transcended the sport after becoming one of the greatest basketball players of all time and has inspired athletes of every sport all over the world, thanks to his "Mamba mentality."
 

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