‘Mount Rushmore of Basketball’: Allen Iverson Describes Kobe Bryant’s Place Among Best Players of All Time

Published 04/12/2021, 7:30 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 26: Laker Kobe Bryant #24 as the Lakers beat the Jazz 107-96 to win the series during game five of a first round Western Conference playoff basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on Monday April 27, 2009 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)


The Los Angeles Lakers made a gamble on Draft Night in 1996. They traded center Vlade Divac to the Hornets for the #13 pick, Kobe Bryant. Five championships later, there are no doubts about how ecstatic they would have been about the gamble.

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Hall of Famer Allen Iverson was also in the same draft along with Kobe. While at that time, he was easily the better player, Kobe took over in just a few years.

Despite all the rivalry they had on the court, the respect they shared for each other was immense. Iverson has always been vocal about his admiration for Kobe, and since his passing, he has taken every opportunity he can to praise his late friend.

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In the recent Ready or Not: The ’96 Draft documentary, Iverson said that Kobe is one of the greatest of all time. He said, “I feel like the best players to ever play are Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. To wanna be great, legendary, talked about once it’s all over. You can’t have a basketball conversation without Kobe Bryant. There’s no way. He’s definitely on that Mount Rushmore of basketball.”

He also added that Kobe is the best to ever play alongside Michael Jordan. Iverson has played against both of them in his career, and a lot of other legendary players too. So, he believes that these are two of the finest he has seen.

Looking back at Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson’s close relationship

Both Kobe and AI shared a mutual admiration for each other. In fact, both of them have a Players’ Tribune article dedicated to each other as well.

The first one was from Kobe back in 2017, which was titled, Obsession is Natural. He talked about how he became obsessed with Iverson after he impressed Kobe with his superb performances early in their careers.

He wrote, “I obsessively read every article and book I could find about AI. I obsessively watched every game he had played, going back to the IUPU All-American Game. I obsessively studied his every success, and his every struggle.”

Then last year, Iverson dedicated an article to Kobe on his August 24, which is also Mamba Day. It was an emotional letter to his late friend, titled Dear Kobe.

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The article was a tearjerker, which ended with Iveson writing, “I don’t really know how I’m supposed to close out a letter like this. I don’t really know how to say goodbye to an NBA legend, a father, a husband, a friend… All I know is… I love you, brother.”

DIVE DEEPER

Allen Iverson Has Hilarious Response to Why He Was Missing From the 1996 Draft Class Photograph

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031258.SP.0806.lakers12.WS –– Lakers Kobe Bryant and 76ers Allen Iverson have a few words with each other at the end of the fourth quarter of the NBA Final game between the Lakers and the 76ers, Friday, June 8, 2001 at the Staples Center. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

 

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Aaron Mathew

1664 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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