It can't be emphasized often enough that Kobe Bryant is one of the most fascinating sports figures we'll ever have the pleasure of sharing the planet with. Every interview is a joy—this one, with ESPN The Magazine, is no exception.
There's so much to like. Kobe claiming that he intimidated Rasheed Wallace and Michael Jordan as a teenager ("[Jordan] looked at me like he was going to fuck me up but I had to let him know that I wasn't that guy"), Kobe justifying his Mamba nickname ("There's a really good scene in the movie "Kill Bill" that explains it"), Kobe declining to read news coverage about himself ("Why? I know everything there is to know about me"), Kobe blaming Shaq for his lack of MVPs ("I sacrificed a lot playing with him").
But the absolute best part (and The Basketball Jones already pulled out this section) is Kobe going on and on about how good he is at one-on-one.
You versus LeBron? Who wins?
Me. No question. As far as one-on-one, I'm the best to ever do it.
Damn. That's pretty confident.
LeBron is a terrific all-around, five-on-five basketball player who's an all-time great. But I'd get him.
Who could get you?
Kevin Durant is the guy that would give me the most trouble. With his length and ability to use the dribble, he'd be tough.
I always wanted to see you play Tracy McGrady.
I played T-Mac. I cooked him. Roasted him. Wasn't even close. Ask him, he'll tell you. When I was about 20, we were in Germany doing some promotional stuff for that other sneaker company and we played basketball every day. We were in the gym all the time. We played three games of one-on-one to 11. I won all three games. One game I won 11-2. After the third game he said he had back spasms and couldn't play anymore.
His back bothered him for most of his career.
Well, now you know.
What about Kyrie Irving?
[Huge smile, laugh.] Kyrie's my boy, but he knows he doesn't have anything for me. He doesn't want to see me. But it would be fun. I've beaten a lot of guys one-on-one, like Reggie Miller and Grant Hill. I used to play Caron Butler all the time in practice when he was with the Lakers. When I was a rookie I used to get Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones. They know. They'll tell you. They used to come at me hard but I wasn't having that. I love going one-on-one with someone. That's what I do. I've never lost. It's a whole different game, just to have them right in front of you and be able to do whatever you want.
You get the feeling Kobe would demolish a sick Make-A-Wish kid whose last dream was to shoot hoops with him, and Kobe would masturbate to the memory of it for a week.