Kobe Bryant played in 1,346 games throughout his Hall of Fame career where he averaged 25 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. He faced innumerable All-NBA caliber players, on both sides of the ball. And yet Bryant, one of the best scorers of this generation, said former OSU standout Tony Allen was far and away the toughest defender he ever faced.
“Tony Allen, that’s easy,” said Bryant when asked about who the toughest defender was. “He was the only one who wasn’t crying for help. Tony Allen would play straight up, he’d be physical, I could score 10-straight and he’d still be there, still being physical, not backing down. Tony Allen by far.”
"He was the only one that wasn't crying for help." ?
Kobe says Tony Allen (by far) was the toughest defender for him. Respect. pic.twitter.com/q1FPdCT1wC
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) October 9, 2018
Bryant’s been asked that question before and his answer, incredibly, hasn’t wavered. He even sent Allen a custom pair of sneakers in 2016 addressed to “the best defender I ever faced!”
That’s First-Team All-Defense for ya.
For fun, here’s a throwback to when the two squared off in the NBA Finals in 2008.