During an interview on Knicks Blog Radio, former Knick Chris Childs revisited the day he realized Kobe doesn’t flinch…and landed a pair of punches on the Lakers superstar before the star gave himself the nickname Black Mamba.
“He was a young player at the time. He had to challenge someone. I happened to be that guy.
“A couple of times going around screens, I played tight defense, it’s physical down there and he hit me with an elbow. I’m fine with that, but don’t do it above the shoulders.’’
Childs said he asked the officials: “’Are you going to do anything about this?’ They put their hands up: ‘What you want me do?’
“‘No problem, I’ll take care of that.’ I said: ‘Young fella, do that again, there’s going to be a problem.’ [Kobe said]: ‘What are you going to do?’
“We go around the pick and he hit me again. By that time, enough is enough. I’m back home. This young guy is trying me. I walk up to him — if you watch it, he hits me with a little shoulder. He’s 6-6. I’m 6-3 at the time. I got to get him off of me. I give him a little head nudge. From that point on, it’s game on. I took a few boxing lessons. I know how to defend myself.
“When I hit him, I didn’t want to hurt him. I knew he was an up-and-coming guy. I remember back in the day watching Kermit Washington hit Rudy T [with an infamous punch during a game in 1977]. I didn’t want to get that label of hurting a guy’s career. So I just happened to tap him and let him know you’re trying the wrong guy.’’
After the game, a pissed off Kobe told reporters, “The little punk decided to sneak me. It was physical play, a physical game, but I didn’t expect him to throw punches. He was holding me a little bit. I didn’t think he was going to throw a punch. I didn’t think he had the [onions] to do it. He threw a sucker punch.”