Over the years, many former NBA players have praised Kobe Bryant’s intensity. Bryant’s fierce intensity is the stuff of legends. Between the stories of his talking trash on the pitch, the fact that he speaks trash in multiple languages, telling other players if they were wearing his shoes and not LeBron James’ shoes, they would get more buckets. ! There has never been an easy night to guard the Black Mamba.
Kenyon Martin is no stranger to his custody. As a forward, Martin has faced Bryant on several occasions. Recently, Martin was on “No Chill with Gilbert Arenas” and had this to say about Bryant’s custody.
“It was a chess match with me and him. And that’s why over the years, I tell myself that it’s good, really good. Because most guys I can stop your A or B. He’s going to go to C and D …. Very competitive but it was fun at the same time. It was a mutual respect for each other, and his offensive ability and my ability to protect people. “
Martin was of course on the 2002 Nets who were swept away by the Lakers. Martin led the Nets in scoring during this series. In the end, having the best big man in the NBA in Shaquille O’Neal, and a young Kobe Bryant was way too hard for the Nets to compete with. Martin was a powerful forward, but the Nets didn’t have a big man to even try to contain O’Neal in his prime.
Intentional or not, Martin’s quote about a “chess match” is reminiscent of Bryant’s famous quote. “These young guys are playing checkers. I’m out and about playing chess.” Looks like Martin was also playing chess with Bryant.
Martin at 6’9 had a three-inch-tall advantage guarding Bryant, and Martin was notoriously quick for a power forward, so that would have made Bryant work hard. As Martin points out however, Bryant had a counter for each defensive move. When Bryant was on, it didn’t matter who looked after him. He was a bucket.