Three years ago, a brash, 20-year-old Kyrie Irving challenged Kobe Bryant to a one-on-one duel during a Team USA training camp in Las Vegas.
The Black Mamba hilariously dismissed the youngster—at one point claiming that Kyrie was the same size as Bow Wow—but Kyrie hasn’t forgotten about their playful $50K wager.
Irving is thankful for all the advice and encouragement Bryant has given him over the years, and says he’s ready to carry on Bean’s legacy once the 37-year-old legend retires at the end of the season.
Per the NEOMG:
Dealing with tendinitis in his left knee and a sore right foot and needing advice during the Eastern Conference semifinals, Irving reached out to a sage veteran, one who had dealt with his own share of injuries: Kobe Bryant.
“During the Chicago series he was the first person I called when I had my knee issues,” Irving admitted Thursday afternoon when asked about his relationship with the Lakers star. “I asked him a few things. He knew a little bit about (Tom) Thibodeau’s defense and how they are going to corral me and what they are going to do knowing I’m hurt and he just told me how to be more effective in the scoring areas as well as on the defensive end. […] We talked for about 30 minutes and he gave me as great a talk as I needed at that time. I was in a terrible mental space knowing I couldn’t be as effective as I wanted to be. He was the first person I called and we’ve had a great dialogue over the last few years so it’s been great.”
The two never had their head-to-head showdown, but Irving, whose confidence and swagger can be taken the wrong way at times, isn’t ready to let go of the challenge. […] “I think I would do it now though,” he said with a smile. “He would still go at me and it would be good.”