Kobe Bryant once studied great white sharks to learn more about Allen Iverson. Related: Kobe Bryant might be a sociopath.
In a recent article for the Players’ Tribune, Kobe takes us back to the 1996-’97 season, which featured a night where Iverson dropped 35 and he only scored five points. He did not handle that particularly well.
Fast forward a few years to the 1999-2000 campaign and Iverson dropped 41 points and 10 assists on Kobe in his hometown Philadelphia. While Kobe didn’t detail what he did to his hotel room, I feel pretty comfortable saying a few items caught the brunt of his ire.
Here’s where sharks and whatever a musecage is make their appearance. Basically, Bryant studied Iverson maniacally and obsessively (his words).
Our own Drew Garrison found a pretty great video of that game (minus the play-by-play language) and I figured I’d grab a few GIFs to highlight the result of Kobe’s
stalking film study.
Just under a year later, the Lakers were playing the Sixers in Philly again and according to Kobe, Phil assigned him Iverson after 16 first half points. Iverson did not have as much success in the second half.
Kobe’s ability to recover is insane (and becomes a theme, as you’ll see), but it really does look like he knows exactly what Iverson is trying to do with each move. He stays in front and forces Iverson to kick it out late in the shot clock.
Again, the recovery is crazy, as he collects one of his five blocks that night.
Here’s where the studying really shows itself. Look how much space Kobe gives AI to start the play. It allows him to create a tougher angle for Iverson to get to the middle, forcing a pretty wild flip shot that never really had a chance.
Poor, poor Tyrone Hill.
Kobe kind of dies on the screen, but recovers to close out and force a dribble, then somehow blocks the shot from the baseline despite starting from a couple steps behind.
Hello, darkness, my old friend.
This is the deciding play of the game. Iverson has the ball in mid-transition, with a running head start. This usually doesn’t end well for the defender. Interestingly enough, Kobe gives him his right hand from the start, then stays in front and blocks the shot.
Getting tipping the rebound to himself and staying inbounds just in case the ref didn’t call the push is just otherworldly stuff, man.
Just like he says in the article, Kobe hold’s Iverson to zero second-half points on the way to a Lakers win. If the Lakers don’t DVR Shark Week for these kids this summer, they’ve missed the point.
Here’s the entire video for those interested. This was great. I miss Kobe.