Kobe Bryant picks his top five opponents

ATLANTA - FEBRUARY 9:  Michael Jordan #23 of the Eastern Conference All Stars talks with Kobe Bryant #8 of the Western Conference All Stars during the 2003 NBA All-Star Game at the Phillips Arena on February 9, 2003 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The West won 155-145 in the first double-overtime All-Star game.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice:  Copyright 2003 NBAE  (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — As the Kobe Bryant farewell tour picks up steam, Kobe faces more questions where he’s asked to put his career in some sort of perspective. Yesterday, Kobe had a conference call with international media, the largest global conference call the NBA has ever hosted.

During the call, Kobe was asked to select his five toughest opponents. And while Kobe acknowledged it was difficult to select only five players, here was Kobe’s list…


  1. fronk says:

    Tim Duncan’s name conspicuously missing. After all the battles they had. Then again he has admitted in the past he’s been jealous of Tim’s career lol

  2. johnnytc1 says:

    Well, Kobe I’m glad you included da king in your list. But I know why now. It’s just in time for the new Star Wars movie. I saw da king the other day with a big smirk on his face when you both were featured on a pic. He finally told you, I see…. Kooobe- Iiiii ammmmmm yourrrrrr faaattthhhherrrrrr….
    da king does look 20 years older than Kobe. I’m glad you finally came clean king!

  3. Jim says:

    Lol this list is ridiculous. Kobe only played against Drexler for 2 years in the twilight of his career, and he played against Hakeem when Dream was in his mid and late 30’s, well past his prime.

    • Marco says:

      Those players may not have been in there prime, but they still are Greats. They may not have the Physical abilities that they use to have, but They had experience and skill.

  4. Bonnie says:

    RAJA BELL . . .

  5. Mary Byrne says:

    Kobe Bryant had a wonderful career. That is quite a list of opponents. Made me remember how much fun it was to watch Olajuwon.
    Thank you

  6. Helen Rensmans says:

    Only one week after the SI’s ”Duncan >>> Kobe”-article.

  7. Ercan Yeşiltaş says:

    Allen IVERSON? anyone?

  8. baller33 says:

    Interesting that he included Hakeem and Drexler…those guys’ careers were on their last legs when Kobe came aboard.

  9. froman says:

    How is Tmac not number 1 on his list

    • Jman says:

      Yes!!!! Tmac vs kobe was one of the best 1 on 1 I have ever seen. They both played defense and offense against each other. The good old days when u could actually play defense in the NBA

    • Joe says:

      Because toughest opponent doesn’t mean just the guys you had a few good battles against. It doesn’t mean only facing someone in their prime. Tough opponents are those who make it tough on you to play your game the way you want to play it. Fans just think of the special glorified moments two people had against each other, but players think of every single time they had to face that person.

      Overall, tough opponents are those who made you work hardest to do what you do, to win the games and the little battles within the game. Tough is not two players going back and forth scoring 50 points against each other. Tough is every single move you make on the court, that opponent is right there. Everything you do, they got an answer for it. Tough is that person who makes you change the way you normally do things.

      So for example, he can name Olajuwon because you are not just gonna high fly through the lane and dunk or lay up shots on Olajuwon, he’ll make you change your shot. He can name drexler becuase drexler actually played defense better than 90% of guards in nba history…t-mac don’t know what defense looks like since he never played a bit of it in his life.

      just saying, there are more aspects to what makes an opponent tough than just some brief epic battle you had with a couple different players.

      Lastly, nobody should be surprised at a list like this because kobe is the only one that knows who his toughest opponents were for him. Think about it, there isn’t a person on earth who can tell you the toughest moment in your life and when you tell them what that moment was, they may look at you like you are crazy….and that is because perception is subjective. What think based on what we see is not truth for others, it’s only truth for ourselves because we can’t feel what others truly feel. So Tmac is not on his top 5 list because there are clearly players he puts ahead of him, but that don’t mean Tmac isn’t in his top 10, top 15 or top 20 list.

    • Salomon says:

      Cause Kobe was scared of T-Mac

  10. lovebball says:


    • cjvjj5 says:

      Bowen came up immediately in my mind when I read the title of this article, and I no Spurs fan.

      • Steve says:

        LMAO how is bruce bowen HARD TO GUARD OR CONTAIN??????? The list isnt who played the best defense its who was the toughest players he faced (NOT GUARDED) Just faced. And Why would he name A.i? or Tmac? when those guys didnt produce many wins vs kobe just good games. You think kobe would of gotten the up most credit for 81pts off a loss?

    • mays says:

      Raja bell with phoenix played the hardest then bruce bowen and tony allen

  11. acdc24242424 says:

    LeBron Durant mj ai RAY ALLEN

  12. D Ford says:

    His hardest person to defend was AI HANDSSSSS DOWNNN! Look at the skates he had on on youtube! Hardest person to guard other than Curry… possibly.

  13. Adama says:

    King of the king jmes

  14. Csmalls says:

    Tracy Mcgrady! Definitely gave Kobe buckets each time they played guess he wanted to forget that

  15. Techo-Anarchist says:

    Please, this idiot probably caught Bryant going into the locker room. He has mentioned others before. Kevin Durant, really? Everyone mentioned somebody but in my opinion, Ron Artest and Bruce Bowen are the hardest players he faced. If i had to go third i would say A.I. MJ was not at his prime, neither was Olajuwon and Drexler couldn’t even get past the Bulls, it was luck they won due to MJ retiring…what happened when MJ came back? Case closed. Durant? Lmao.

    • Dre says:

      I believe he played mj when he was on the bulls which in my opinion was his prime and I don’t think we can refute his claims its his opinion lol. Maybe these were the first names that popped his head I mean he did say it was hard to name just 5

      • Sid says:

        Bulls had no one to guard the dream Hakeem plus drexler would’ve match up with mj and then the rockets had good supporting cast to beat the Bulls haha…

      • cecil says:

        Dude the Rockets were like 5-0 or some crap against Jordan around that span mad max played Jordan hard look it up the Rockets had the bulls # cus they had no match up for Hakeem

    • Sachin Patel says:

      Jordan couldn’t beat the rockets

      • joe says:

        What are you talking about, jordan wasn’t even in the NBA the two years rockets were a factor and won the title. He was retired and didn’t come back until 17 games left in the 95 season. So jordan never faced the rockets in the finals and if you are talking about regular season, who cares what teams a player lost to when you won 6 straight titles and anyone knows that it would have been 8 straight had jordan not retired. The only thing that beat jordan was father time…once he got a taste of that first title, no team in 8 year stretch was good enough to be a jordan led bulls team until old age clipped his wings.

  16. KOBE STOPPER says:


  17. Greg says:

    It’s funny, in another posting it states that Raja bell was the best defender against him…doesn’t that make him a tough opponent? I guess they mean both offensively and defensively…but if anyone remembers a few years a go when LeBron went one on one with Kobe…Kobe stuffed LeBron and took the ball to only dunk on LeBron on the other end…All Star game

    • Anthony says:

      Allstar game lol go back and look at the battles between kobe and lebron lol they were great where lebron won the majority of them

    • tas06 says:

      typical statement of someone who has only seen some kobe highlights on youtube but never seen the actual games full length…maybe u should try that sometime. then you would know, that LeBron won most of the battles against Kobe.

  18. MikeB says:

    Baron Davis use to own Kobe… and what about these guys – TMac, DWade, Ray Allen, Bonzi Wells !!

  19. raul says:


  20. taekayo says:

    Bowen and Bell aren’t included because teams don’t have to guard them as much. This is both on offense and defense.

    Its funny though that Kobe chose guys past their primes while he was young (Hakeem, Drexler, MJ) and guys hitting their primes while he’s at his twilight (LBJ, KD). He never mentioned anyone in his generation (TD, KG, AI, Kidd, Allen, Carter, TMac). Probably his LAL team with Shaq was just that dominant at that time haha. Though Penny once owned him though :).

  21. BELVIS BACH says:


  22. TOP5IVE says:

    Makes sense, there’s no one else on that level of competition he’s faced while in his prime that gave him competition. Kobe was bossing and second to no one until he got hurt. We’re not talking team, but player! Others are on his list just not that high.

  23. Seven Costanza says:

    so wheres the list?

  24. Azorin says:

    I thought he used to say Tracy mcgrsdy was the hardest to guard

  25. tas06 says:

    it’s so hard to read, isn’t it?

    kobe was asked for the top players he faced.. not about who is toughest to guard, not who gave him the hardest time defending him.. just top players.

  26. HOOPS Las Vegas says:

    Kobe said his top five…not best defenders or who scored the most against him. So many people on here must not even
    read the heading on the article. Bruce Bowen…top five LOL, someone said Raja Bell…WOW, Bonzi Wells…REALLY??? Even TD…???…why? He doesn’t give Kobe the best games. I think his list is solid and who are we to criticize who he thinks is HIS top five…no one asked the fans or the trollers what five they think he should have picked, they asked him…and one last bit of info, if someone gave it to Kobe on the floor (if they played good against him) then I’m sure he gave it back to them more times than he received it.

  27. Jman says:

    In an interview; some years back; KOBE stated that Allen Iverson, and T-mac were the hardest people for him to guard. He is just being politically correct. Oh and Lebron James on his list as “opponent”. Most times he made Lebron look like a regular player.Last time I remembered an opponent had to give somewhat of a challenge. But it is what it is.

    • A says:

      Said something similar about Mr. Sideways-kick Reggie Miller at one point.as well.. “Touch him, he falls down, then makes both free throws.”

    • Jamal says:

      Do you even know what you are talking about? “He made LeBron look like a regular player.” REALLY? Did you know that Kobe is 3-12 against LeBron in his career? And it’s not like LeBron was always on powerhouse teams where he had a ton of talent. You can’t say A.I. or T-Mac because Kobe could do whatever he wanted against them, he would have had to play defense but his offense would not be affected.
      LeBron is physically stronger than Kobe, so backing him down in the post would have been hard to do, and he’s quick enough to play him straight up behind the arc. A nightmare scenario for Kobe, that goes for Clyde the Glide as well.

      • Dre says:

        Lebron did win more times but it’s not like he was stopping Kobe. I think that’s what he means when he said kobe made him look like a regular player, although I would agree that’s a stretch those were great games they played against each other

  28. R.D. says:

    Tracy McGrady always made Kobe look Peak Stupid.

    • ryan says:

      So true. He didn’t want to list players in his generation that are arguably better than him at least individually. T-Macs best years were better than Kobe’s and same with AI. and Tim Duncan is just simply a better player period. Although Kobe is great he might be the most overrated player in league history.

  29. Gino says:

    How come kobe did not include tracy mcgrady on his top 5 list? F i remember correcty kobe was asked before, about who is his toughest competitor, and he said carmelo anthony #1 Tmac

  30. Murda baby says:

    He didn’t pick a.i

  31. Themagicman says:

    People also tend to forget that Tayshaun Prince owned Kobe in the Finals and exposed his a

  32. Mag says:

    Those are some Hall of Fame names. Im sure Paul Pierce and Garnett would have been mentioned but he has so much hate in his heart after the Celtics beat them in the Finals. Also the Pistons seemed like tough opponents when they won the Finals too.

    I think Jordan at any age would be tough to play against.

  33. XTRM2DMX says:

    let’s not forget Paul Fierce he did a great job on him on the Celtics VS Lakers NBA 2008 finals where the Celtics won!Paul Pierce played defense (especially when he said he wants to guard Bryant in Game 4, allowing for the Blowout, and the sure block he did) and was great offensively.

  34. kobe fan says:

    Didn’t he say Iverson and Tmac like ten times before…

  35. John3sixteen says:

    Top 5 should include:

    Raja Bell
    Dough Christie
    Ron Artest
    The 2004 pistons

  36. Adrian says:

    I know many will laugh at me but I think Ginobili made Kobe angry a lot of times 🙂

  37. Alan Hollway says:

    This list needs commenting on. I have no problems with Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant and Lebron James all superstars and playing for long periods in Kobe’s playing career. I have more problems with the Dream Hakeem and even more so with Clyde Drexler. Drexler played practically no time during Kobe’s playing career, Hakeem did play at least a bit more than that but was not at his peak in fact far from it. Drexler was worse he could hardly get up and down the court in his final 2 years which was when he would have seen Bryan playing. TMca had to be included because of the sheer rivalry and Tim Duncan also because they were practically the fierceness opponents during his entire career. No mention of his team mate Shaq either. Shall did move onto play for Miami, Phoenix, Clevaland and Bostin winning a championship at Miami. I think he should have named 10 players out of respect to TMaC, Duncan and Shaq and added Allan Iverson and Kevin Garnett.

  38. DC says:

    Allen Iverson! Ray Allen! Paul Pierce! Olajawon?

  39. Salty says:

    Drexler retired in 98 when Kobe was still glued to the bench. Olajuwon was in his mid 30’s and a shadow of himself. Kobe is salty now everyone knows TD is the player of his generation

  40. Michael says:

    What about Thabo…?!! Sefolosha been a dude that’s been messing with Kobe for minute.. remember the last game when he blocked Kobe and didn’t come over for farewell hug

  41. MikeT says:

    I don’t quite understand the question and by the response of Kobe I don’t think he understood either. Looks like he just pulled some names out of a bag and penciled in MJ because his name has to be mentioned when greatness is in topic.

    Yes absolutely, Tim Duncan should be on that list.

  42. daniel says:

    Im pretty sure he once said Tracy Mcgrady was his best opponent

  43. edward says:

    I would’ve ventured to say MJ, T-Mac, AI, Shane Battier and Ron Artest

  44. Gus Gelpi says:

    He did not mention Larry Bird because they never played against each other. Otherwise Bird would have been on the list rather than Drexler. Bird would have made Kobe an even more competitive player !

  45. cathy m says:

    It doesn’t really matter; nobody could stop Kobe anyway.

  46. Jake says:

    I wish I could have seen the Kobe and Shaq Lakers against Jordan’s Bulls, I think it would of been a great serious but could never of realistically happened because they had the same coach. I also wish Kobe and Lebrun could of met in the finals but it just wasn’t meant to be I guess.

  47. Imad says:

    i think it should be AI and T-mac instead of Hakeem and Drexler, but that’s the Mamba’s opinion

  48. mwell says:

    I’m surprised he didn’t list Ruben Patterson LOL!

  49. Tom78 says:

    Smush Parker…

  50. Rich says:

    Kobe didn’t like facing Stockton and Malone much, either, especially when they were sweeping him and Shaq in the playoffs. I find it interesting that Barkley said McHale was the toughest player he personally had to face. I can’t argue with Kobe’s list. As he was one of the better defenders for years, Kobe should know who were the toughest players to guard. If this were a list of players who did the best job of guarding him, the list would be different. Point guards hated having Stockton and Payton guard them, including Magic, but Kobe usually had a shooting guard on him. MJ probably did the best job of actually defending Kobe while still presenting a huge challenge on the other end.

  51. Mike says:

    He was lucky to play with Shaq in one team

  52. lamonte says:

    I wonder if bruce bowen is in the next 5???? They went at it a lot I used to love those battles

  53. Marcelão says:

    Tim Duncan is greater than Kobe Bryant. Duncan simply is the best player of this generation.

    Of course Kobe Bryant won’t list his name.

  54. Iraelite says:

    Chris Childs ?!?

    WAP WAP!!!!!!!

  55. RichDollars says:

    Ok kobe, so we just going to make believe that all those games Allen Iverson ate your lunch dropping 30+ never happened!!!

  56. GR says:

    I would replace Kevin Durant with Richard Hamilton because he just killed kobe in the nba finals he couldn’t guard Rip when he came off the curl or the screen .

  57. Joey says:

    why are you guys throwing in names; the question was asked to Kobe and he answered it…

  58. aj says:

    That’s the problem with any top 5 list, in almost any category. Far too many people will be left out and its always the case. People seem to take this far to personal. If it were a top fifty list there would still be many left out. Just saying!

  59. Chris says:

    Manu Ginobili was a very tough challenge for Kobe

  60. Jonathan says:

    So he’s just going to go back on a previous statement he made when he said Tracy mcgrady(in his prime) was his toughest opponent.

  61. Romeo Thompson says:

    No Dwyane Wade? After all the duels. All the competitiveness they had toward each other in their careers.

  62. Homeless strippers says:

    He left out father time

    He has a losing record VS the Spurs. Must have been someone there bothering Kobe.

  63. Da H says:

    The players he name have skills and alround players. I think he just named players that are real team leaders.

  64. Theodoor says:

    Ruben Patterson = The Kobe Stopper (Clearly he’s in denial)

  65. sports fan says:

    There are a lot of clueless people here.
    “Toughest opponent” doesn’t necessarily mean “who guarded Kobe the best” or “who scored most against Kobe”.
    It could mean both plus a lot of other factors.
    For those who brought up Duncan, A.I. T-Mac, Bowen, etc – for all we know they couldv’e been 6 thru 10 on his list.
    Kobe even said it’s hard to pick just 5.

  66. Kevin says:

    I would think that AI would be up there too, that dude was a straight up G

  67. sports fan says:

    There are a lot of clueless people here.
    “Toughest opponent” doesn’t necessarily mean “who guarded Kobe the best” or “who scored most against Kobe”.
    It could mean both plus a lot of other factors.
    For those who brought up Duncan, A.I. T-Mac, Bowen, etc – for all we know they couldv’e been 6 thru 10 on his list.
    Kobe even said it’s hard to pick only 5.

  68. Deshawn says:

    No Tmac No A.I or Gilbert Arienes

  69. E-mizzle says:

    Dirk should had been 1

  70. Tony says:

    I feel kobe is the last of a dying breed from the jordan era black mamba is still the greatest laker besides magic and west and baylor and big kareem and chamberlin these players now are not built like a kobe or jordan or iversion the defense is different no hand checking curry is a great scorer but he couldn’t have got what he is getting with the jordan rules and charles barkley no lay up rule the game is to easy now kobe accomplish everything in basketball i salute him

  71. DukeBallsLifeGirl22 says:

    Surprised Curry’s isn’t on that list. LeBron is so over rated and going to have his king title for little time left.

  72. al miller says:

    its hard to name 5.Try it? name 5 players you have seen play. MY 5 IS Jordan,Lebron,Magic,Jabbar and Olajuwon

  73. Simão says:

    Kobe said recently that Allen Iverson was one of the fearless competitors he has ever played against…
    No mention..???