Sunday, August 23 marked what would be Kobe Bryant‘s 42nd birthday. On Monday, Kobe’s fellow NBA legend and friendly rival Allen Iverson published a tribute to his fallen friend for The Players Tribune simply titled “Dear Kobe.”
“This is going to be tough,” he began, “but I need to get this off my chest. Everybody clear out for me and Kobe.”
The two Hall of Famers famously met up in the 2001 NBA Finals, with the Los Angeles Lakers winning in fie games. Bryant averaged 24.6 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, and 5.8 assists per game.
“We might have grown up in different circumstances,” Iverson continued, “but when I saw you on the court, and how hard you were going, I knew we were raised with the same mentality. I wasn’t tall–but in my mind, I was going to be a giant out there every single night.”
Bryant and Iverson squared off 29 times in their career, and each time, they performed at a high level. In those head-to-head meetings, Bryant and Iverson averaged 24 and 25 points per game, respectively. Kobe’s Lakers won 16 of those games, while Iverson’s squad took 13. Bryant won his second NBA title against Iverson in the 2001 Finals.
“The 2001 Finals, we were going at each other like fighters,” Iverson reminisced. “Not out of some beef or hatred–that’s what some people could never understand. Not out of hate. Out of admiration. Out of love.”
Read the full letter over at The Players Tribune.
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