Kobe Bryant ‘obsessively searched’ for answers to stop Allen Iverson, including studying sharks

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant left no stone unturned when he took the challenge of preparing to guard Allen Iverson back in their early NBA days.


His journey to shutting down one of the league’s most prolific scorers took him down a multitude of paths, Bryant wrote in a post on The Players’ Tribune, one of which included studying the habits of great white sharks.

The Mamba said after Iverson dropped 41 points and 11 assists on his head on March 19, 1999 in his hometown of Philadelphia, he came to the realization that working hard wasn’t enough.

Kobe needed to study:

I obsessively read every article and book I could find about AI. I obsessively watched every game he had played, going back to the IUPU All-American Game. I obsessively studied his every success, and his every struggle. I obsessively searched for any weakness I could find.

I searched the world for musings to add to my AI Musecage.

This led me to study how great white sharks hunt seals off the coast of South Africa.

The patience. The timing. The angles.

Bryant wrote he was able to put the clamps on A.I. when he switched onto him defensively at the half. After scoring 16 first-half points, Iverson didn’t score again and finished his night shooting 7-of-25 from the field with five turnovers. Bryant finished with 18 points (on 7-of-15 shooting), seven assists, and five blocks, likely as a byproduct of hounding the much shorter Iverson.

“Revenge was sweet,” Bryant wrote.

The Lakers beat the 76ers, 87-84, but the Mamba didn’t stop there. He wanted to make sure no one else would push him the way Iverson did. Bryant wanted to dominate everyone.

I swore, from that point on, to approach every matchup as a matter of life and death. No one was going to have that kind of control over my focus ever again.

I will choose who I want to target and lock in.

I will choose whether or not your goals for the upcoming season compromise where I want to be in 20 years.

If they don’t, happy hunting to you. But if they do….

I will hunt you obsessively. It’s only natural.

This is the stuff only the greats are made of. It takes a special kind of player to bring this level of discipline and detail to his craft. And it’s a reason why Kobe’s a surefire Hall of Famer, a five-time NBA champion, and the second-best shooting guard in NBA history.


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