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Kobe Bryant’s Jersey Retirement Ceremony Is Tonight, So Some Former Players Talked About What He Was Like On The Court

Both #8 and #24 will be retired.

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It seems like just the other day that Kobe played in his final game and had a performance so incredible, it felt like a scripted movie.

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Now, over a year and a half later, Kobe is having his jersey retired on December 18th, which will make basketball fans feel old.

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Ahead of the Monday night ceremony, BuzzFeed caught up with six former NBA players who either played or coached against Kobe, to have them describe what he was like as a competitor.

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Shaquille O’Neal, who played with, and against Kobe:

“What really made him special was his determination. I remember having a conversation with Kobe when he said, ‘I want to be as big as Michael Jordan, bigger than Michael,’ and me, I’m looking at this 18-year-old kid, like, ‘Okay, buddy, slow down.’ But as the years went on, you saw his game progress, his work ethic progress, you saw him start to act like a leader and like a champion, and I think it helped us get three [championships] in a row.”
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“What really made him special was his determination. I remember having a conversation with Kobe when he said, ‘I want to be as big as Michael Jordan, bigger than Michael,’ and me, I’m looking at this 18-year-old kid, like, ‘Okay, buddy, slow down.’ But as the years went on, you saw his game progress, his work ethic progress, you saw him start to act like a leader and like a champion, and I think it helped us get three [championships] in a row.”

Grant Hill, who played against Kobe:

“Kobe was a tough player to guard whether it was one-on-one or in a game setting. As a player, he was relentless, focused, and he never got rattled. He didn’t have many weaknesses — he was the ultimate challenge.”
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“Kobe was a tough player to guard whether it was one-on-one or in a game setting. As a player, he was relentless, focused, and he never got rattled. He didn’t have many weaknesses — he was the ultimate challenge.”

Greg Anthony, who played against Kobe:

“In every facet of his game, he was the closest player we have seen to Michael Jordan — in terms of how competitive, how mentally tough, and how driven he was as a player. Then, you factor in his overall skill set — Kobe Bryant was off the charts.”
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“In every facet of his game, he was the closest player we have seen to Michael Jordan — in terms of how competitive, how mentally tough, and how driven he was as a player. Then, you factor in his overall skill set — Kobe Bryant was off the charts.”

Kevin McHale, a Hall of Fame player, who coached against Kobe Bryant.

“Watching Kobe was a lot like watching Michael [Jordan]. A lot of his mannerisms… [he was] the closest thing to Michael that I’ve seen in our league.”
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“Watching Kobe was a lot like watching Michael [Jordan]. A lot of his mannerisms… [he was] the closest thing to Michael that I’ve seen in our league.”

Steve Smith, who played against Kobe Bryant.

“Kobe was the most fundamentally sound player that I’ve seen play. You then add his fundamentals to his elite athleticism, skill set, passion, and IQ.”
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“Kobe was the most fundamentally sound player that I’ve seen play. You then add his fundamentals to his elite athleticism, skill set, passion, and IQ.”

Isiah Thomas, a Hall of Fame player, who coached against Kobe Bryant.

“Kobe Bryant was a mirror of Michael Jordan.”
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“Kobe Bryant was a mirror of Michael Jordan.”

NBA TV will showcase the ceremony Monday, December 18, at 10:30 PM ET/7:30 PM PT.

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