“I Hadn’t Seen Anything Like That Besides Black Jesus, Michael Jordan”| Allen Iverson On His Relationship With Kobe Bryant

Allen Iverson Talks Kobe Bryant and Black Jesus
(Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)

NBA legend Allen Iverson was a guest on Vernon Maxwell’s new podcast, “Maxed Out!” and talked about his relationship with the late Kobe Bryant. While the two weren’t the type to talk on the phone and hang out, there was mutual respect, and AI felt Kobe brought the best out of him and he hoped he did the same for the Los Angeles Lakers icon. 

“Just a colossal amount of respect, admiration,” said Iverson. “The dude was a monster, you know what I mean? I hadn’t seen anything like that besides Black Jesus, Michael Jordan. And it was kind of like a spitting image. He could do and affect the game just like my hero. Anybody who knows me, you know Black Jesus is everything to me.”

What Kind Of Relationship Did AI And Kobe Have? 

AI recalls a story early in both his and Bryant’s careers as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. They are in Los Angeles to play the Lakers and it was one of the rare times the two went out to eat. Afterward Kobe asks AI where he’s headed and AI said, “the club.” In true Kobe fashion, when AI asks the same question the Black Mamba responded with “the gym.”

That interaction was essentially the difference between both players. Kobe was maniacally obsessed with being the best basketball player ever. AI worked and competed but loved the lifestyle of being an NBA superstar.

Kobe And Iverson Part Of Legendary 1996 NBA Draft 

The two were a part of the famed 1996 draft class.

Joining Iverson (No. 1 pick) and Bryant (No. 13 pick) were: Marcus Camby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen, Antoine Walker, Peja Stojakovic, Steve Nash, and Jermaine O’Neal.

That’s a few MVPs, NBA titles, All-NBA, All-Defensive and DPOY honors.

AI is correct in that Bryant was a Michael Jordan facsimile. Bryant copied Jordan’s swag, style, just about everything. But as is often the case the sequel wasn’t as good as the original.

Jordan for the volume of shots he took he was a pretty efficient scorer. A career 50 eFG% and 56.9 TS%. Bryant was also a volume scorer, but a little less efficient. A career 48 eFG% and 55 TS%.

Both players won titles. Six for Jordan and five for Bryant. In WS/48, the amount a player contributes to wins per 48 minutes, .100 is league average. Bryant’s career mark is .170 almost double league average. Jordan’s is .250, No. 1 all time. Two and a half times league average.

Comparing Kobe Bryant To Michael Jordan

Jordan is fifth in career win shares, Bryant is 16th. Jordan has five MVPs to Bryant’s one and six Finals MVPs to Bryant’s two. They both have multiple All-NBA and All-Defensive selections. Bryant with more because he played longer and had an extended prime. But at their peak it’s not really close.

Regardless, Bryant is an all-time great and he’s influenced a generation of players, many of whom are in the NBA currently.

While AI was a peer of Bryant’s, the reverence he has for the Lakers great shows how impactful a player Bryant was and how much his peers respected him. Bryant was on the winning end of a lot of battles with AI and many of his peers, and those battles forged a deep admiration.