The Lakers-Celtics rivalry renewed when Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce came to the forefront. The age-old competitive franchises made their captains one of the biggest rivals of the ’00s. Only after the Black Mamba’s death did Pierce open up his feelings for Kobe. “Made me who I am,” Pierce admitted.
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson had ignited the fire between the two most successful franchises in NBA history. Only Paul-Kobe could get it back. It was in 2008 when the two teams met in the NBA finals after two big picks by the Celtics; Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. But eventually, after a fierce competition Celtics won the championship. History repeated in 2010 but this time it was Kobe who took away the trophy.
Even though they were tough competitors on the court, Kobe-Paul maintained a mutual respect for each other as players. Recently in an interview with Norm Elrod of CBS and KCAL, Paul expressed love and admiration for The Mamba.
“I played mad against everybody, but him,” said Pierce. “We always just had a different type of relationship. I think it was more out of respect too. Everybody else, I pretty much couldn’t care less about. It seemed that way, off the court. Just to have the opportunity to match up with him, know him on-and-off the court was special. It made me who I am, pretty much.”
Many hearts broke after Kobe Bryant’s sudden death in a helicopter crash this January. A whole lot of NBA players expressed their demise on such a big loss. That was the first time Paul Pierce had opened up about how much Kobe meant to him.
“There would be no Paul Pierce ‘The Truth’ without Kobe… I felt like I lost a brother.” Paul told in his emotional statement.
Pierce was an era for the Celtics of the 20th century. He is a 10-time NBA All-Star and became the Finals MVP back in 2008. Kobe and Pierce were compared in various aspects during that five-year period. Well, it’s sad how Kobe didn’t get a chance to know what Pierce had to say for him.
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