If you’ve followed the career of Kobe Bryant, you’ve seen him have a multitude of so-called rivals at the shooting guard position, all of which he’s outlasted and obviously bested at one point or another.
The “rivalry” with Tracy McGrady was fun and it’s a shame that it didn’t last longer, and Vince Carter also could have given the Black Mamba a run for his money but didn’t seem interested enough in his own greatness and thus we were robbed there as well.
Allen Iverson provided a great potential nemesis given the contrast in styles, but his size made it as such that he would never defend Bryant in a million years on the hardwood.
That’s left us with Ray Allen, Manu Ginobili and Dwyane Wade, who all at one point or another gave Kobe a terrific matchup and made things both interesting and entertaining for us as fans.
But there is one guy who has been waiting for perhaps the longest time ever to finally get a crack at Kobe. Heck, he’s gotten a few chances here and there, but never the chance, not until today.
The left-handed guard has been victimized by Kobe on more than one occasion, be it NBA floor, or summer league play. And each and every single time, Harden has barked at him and refused to back down.
The one lingering problem that he had was that he could never pay Bryant back because he wasn’t primary option on his team and thus didn’t have the possibilities of just attacking the superstar whenever it best suited him.
For instance, in last year’s playoffs, Bryant tortured Harden in both the pinch post and the low block despite the fact that Harden did one of the best defensive jobs ever seen on KB by anyone not named Bruce Bowen. But Bryant’s singular offensive talent just made Harden look like a petulant fly that kept reviving itself only to consistently land on a windshield. Making matters even more frustrating was the fact that Bryant got the opportunity at times to hide himself defensively and rest by defending the likes of Thabo Sefolosha or even guarding Harden away from the ball.
Best believe that James Harden has remembered all of those times Kobe baited him, talked trash and well, owned him.
It’s worth noting, Metta World Peace will probably spend the bulk of the minutes defending Harden, but on those rare trips when Harden sees Bryant on him in the half-court, he will assuredly be thinking about the opportunity that’s finally fallen before him.
In an interesting twist of fate, Kobe Bryant is leading the league in scoring at 26.9 points per game, but James Harden is right on his heels at 26.7 points per game and might want to narrow that margin tonight against the Mamba.
And if he does?
As fans, we should all be better for it, because matchups of marquee shooting guards are slowly becoming a thing of the past; especially when considering that Kobe’s career will soon be coming to a close.
It might not sound at the moment like a bitter old rivalry at the moment, but it definitely has the makings of one…
And we’re all lucky for it.
Metta will be guarding Harden, not Kobe right?
metta will be defending kobe? That explains why he’s been shooting so good, metta’s defense prevented him from taking fadeaways. GOOD WORK METTA
Kenny T says
I think a bigger story is the Metta/Harden dynamic, considering The Elbow and all.
It is amazing how many rivals and “Kobe-stoppers” the Mamba has outlasted. Anybody heard from Ruben Patterson lately?
Reviewing the list of supposed Kobe rivals is at times comical. Billups and Arenas being added to the names listed above. All of these guys can’t compare. Iverson also is on the list of the vanquished. I would also say that the fact that Nash has 2 MVP’s while KB has one is let’s say – interesting – and something I would expect more from the academy awards committee (don’t flame me – yes I realize Nash is one of ours now).
As to the potential Harden rivalry, he does clearly have KB topped in both facial and head hair, but not much else : )
Only one guy really compares and he retired from the Bulls a while back : )
And stop saying Kobe’s career is coming to a close. He has three and 1/2 years to go to get to 20 years. I have already told him that 20 years is the minimum acceptable level : )
I actually don’t think Harden did a good job defending Kobe at all in last years playoffs. It was when they switched the longer Durant onto Kobe that trouble happened at the end of the games.
The best defenders Kobe has faced (and struggled the most against) have been Bruce Bowen and Tony Allen. Though Allen was offensively limited while at Boston, the degree of difficulty for Kobe increased exponentially when he was on the floor. We are just all thankful that Tony Allen cant shoot.
@ Kenny T:
He, Bell, and Bowen are all having a sleep-over tonight–they are going to watch the game before they go to bed.
LT mitchell says
One reason I’m not a fan of Harden’s game is his flopping. A large part of his offensive game is his ability to get to the line. His go to move is to drive into the paint, initiate contact, flop, and hope the refs blow the whistle. The refs bought it all of last season until the finals when the they suddenly and inexplicably stopped blowing their whistles, which IMO is the main reason he struggled so badly against the Heat. Without those calls he was accustomed to getting, his go to move was taken away and he could never find his rhythm. I’ll be counting how many times he flops tonight, and how many times the refs fall for it.
I’d say Ray Allen is the real rival here, being draft mates and all, having worn the Celtic Green and meeting in the Finals twice, and if all goes well, a third time this year.
But needless to say, whoever you throw out there, Kobe tops this generation.
Kobe’s nemesis is always on the west. they are Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and later Tracy Mcgrady, Carmelo Anthony. The good guards were always competing on the east like Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, young T-mac, Wade, James, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce. Kobe was always on the spotlight during playoffs because the scoring guards were always on the east.
I’d nominate Bowen, if you go beyond individual matchups to the bigger picture. During the Kobe-Jackson era from Shaq to Gasol, the Spurs were really the only other consistent contenders for championship status, and they counted on Bowen to slow down (not stop) Kobe enough to get the edge in games.
I don’t mean to put down this article but Kobe is 34 years old, way past his prime. How can a 24 year old newcomer like Harden remotely be considered a nemesis/rival to Kobe when Kobe won his 5th championship when Harden was a rookie?
To me a nemesis has bitterly battled a player for years and have started/progressed in their careers at similar pace.
I thinks this article is trying to say that Harden is battling Kobe for this current year’s “Best Shooting Guard” honors. This is far different than a nemesis. And even on that note, it’s Kobe/Dwade 1 and 2, and Harden is now rightfully claiming 3, but is still a year or two away from wresting any further.
p.s. If you think Harden is #2, then you’re being unconscionably swayed by the current moment. Kobe and Dwade are both multiple-time champions, Finals MVPs, established, legitimate franchise players even today. Harden is not even close.
Kenny T says
That was pretty funny!