Bryant wrote an article Tuesday for The Players’ Tribune. In the article, he talked about the challenge of guarding Iverson.
“On March 19, 1999, Iverson put 41 points and 10 assists on me in Philadelphia,” Bryant wrote.
“Working harder wasn’t enough,” Bryant wrote. “I had to study this man maniacally. 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. I obsessively searched for any weakness I could find.”
“This led me to study how great white sharks hunt seals off the coast of South Africa,” Bryant wrote.
Bryant was given the assignment again on Feb. 20, 2000 in Philadelphia. Phil Jackson told Bryant to line up on “The Answer.”
The 18-time All-Star and five-time NBA champ responded by facing up with Iverson after his 16-point first half; Iverson had zero points in the second stanza.
“Revenge was sweet,” Bryant wrote. “But I wasn’t satisfied after the win. I was annoyed that he had made me feel that way in the first place. I swore, from that point on, to approach every matchup as a matter of life and death. No one was going to have that kind of control over my focus ever again.”
Bryant, 38, was an 12-time All-Defensive team selection. He retired after the 2015 season after averaging 25 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 rebounds per game for his career.