Allen Iverson has penned a heartfelt tribute to fellow NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.
In an essay published in The Players’ Tribune on August 24, dubbed Kobe Bryant Day, Iverson reflected on how Bryant inspired him to be a better player.
“Me and you, every single time we stepped on that floor, we were going to war. But it wasn’t an animosity thing. There was never any beef,” Iverson wrote. “It was like heavyweight fighters beating the hell out of one another. And then at the bell, it’s nothing but love and respect. Greatness needs company, and we needed each other. Mike needed Prince like Prince needed Mike. Tyson needed Holyfield like Holyfield needed Tyson.”
“Everybody needs that person to say, ‘Oh, you’re the sh—, huh? Well I’m the sh—, too,'” he continued. “And boy, you were the s—.”
Iverson’s tribute comes a day after what would have been Bryant’s 42nd birthday.
— Allen Iverson (@alleniverson) August 24, 2020
Iverson went on to note that Bryant was the “toughest man that I’ve ever seen in this game,” he wrote. “The most cold-blooded serial killer I’ve ever seen. The fiercest competitor I’ve ever seen.”
He added, “I remember hearing the story that you were on the road, and you were watching the highlights of me dropping 35 on the Knicks at the Garden our rookie year,” Iverson continued. “You got so mad that you smashed up the hotel room and you started researching me like you were in the CIA. ‘GET ME THE FILE ON A.I.’ — I bet it was like that. Studying how great white sharks hunt down seals in the Pacific Ocean and whatnot.”
Iverson then noted that his children considered Bryant a “hero.”
“My kids used to be hitting me talking about how they want the Kobe Adidases when they came out!!!! They were rocking number 8 and number 24, because you were one of their heroes,” he said. “And if I’m being honest about it? You were a hero to me, too. Even though you were younger than me, I looked up to you because of how much you sacrificed, how much you gave to this game.”
Read the essay in its entirety here.
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles on Jan. 26. He would’ve celebrated his 42nd birthday Sunday.