According to Kobe, those who were once considered rivals faded away, and the current crop of stars is too young and haven’t won enough rings to truly measure up. From ESPN: “Despite Bryant’s acknowledging that it’s not just another game, he wouldn’t characterize his relationship with LeBron James as a rivalry. ‘Not for me,’ Bryant said. ‘I get up for everybody just the same, to be honest. It’s hard for me to turn my meter up any higher than it normally is.’ OK, Bryant was asked, how about Dwyane Wade? […] ‘He’s too young,’ Bryant said. ‘He’s too young. When I came into the league, he was in elementary school.’ Bryant is three years older than Wade, but was already a seven-year veteran when Wade was drafted in 2003. Bryant said it is ‘a little late in the game’ for him to develop a rivalry with any current NBA player, so instead he is chasing names in the record books rather than in box scores from the 2011-12 season. ‘At this point my rivals, in terms of what I have left to accomplish in my career, (left the game) when Magic (Johnson) and Michael (Jordan) retired in ’98,’ Bryant said, referring to the second of Jordan’s three retirements that came after he won his sixth and final championship with the Chicago Bulls. ‘That’s it. In terms of what I’m looking to accomplish, that’s about it.’ […] ‘What I have left to accomplish, those players retired a long time ago,’ Bryant said. The San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan won four championships to Bryant’s five throughout their shared careers, but Bryant said while the Spurs might have qualified as a team rival to his Lakers, Duncan’s individual rivalry came against Shaquille O’Neal as a fellow big man. ‘He was never in my position,’ Bryant said. ‘He was more Shaq’s rival than mine. As a team, the Spurs were always a team that we had to go through. So from that standpoint, yes, but in terms of personally, no. I’ve outgrown them all, from A.I. (Allen Iverson) when I first came in to (Tracy) McGrady to Vince Carter and so forth and so on.'”
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