Grant Hill’s Strategic Insight: Choosing to Guard Kobe Bryant Over LeBron James – A Fascinating Perspective

Sating Kobe Bryant was the toughest person you had to guard isn’t exactly an answer that would raise too eyebrows, or any eyebrows at all frankly. The offensive arsenal that Bean had in his bag was as deep as a bag could get, and then some. 

Grant Hill unfortunately, was one of the many souls who took to NBA hardwood when going against the Los Angeles Lakers and was assigned the task of marking Kobe Bryant. Kobe stated on multiple occasions that he had a particular disdain for the Suns after losing to them in the Playoffs twice.

Injuries derailed what would’ve been perhaps a Michael Jordan-esque career (according to NBA legends) for Grant Hill as he torched defenses while on the Pistons. After his short-lived prime, he was given the task of guarding the opposing team’s best offensive player at most times.

Hill guarding Kobe while on the Phoenix Suns coupled with the ‘Black Mamba’ not liking the Suns in the first place resulted in Hill getting lit up over and over again.

Grant Hill on Kobe Bryant being the toughest guard.

Grant Hill went on Ryan Hollins’s ‘Opinionated 7-footers’ podcast in 2020 and let it be known that Kobe Bryant was definitively the toughest player he’s ever had to guard.

“Kobe was the toughest to guard and I had to guard Melo, LeBron and all the wings. Kobe didn’t have a weakness.” 

Hill is certainly right about that last part as over a 20-year career, Kobe Bryant displayed offensive perfection in nearly every facet of the game. Off the dribble off both feet, a genius with his pivot foot, fadeaways, early career athleticism, and so much more. The trope that he wasn’t a good passer should also be chucked in the trash can. Forever.

Grant Hill and Bryant actually share somewhat of a storied history as the two were almost traded for one another due to the latter being unhappy with his role off the bench in 1999. Well, in reality, it took only a couple minutes for the Lakers front office to realize that trading away 22 year old Kobe for 28 year old Hill wouldn’t exactly be the brightest idea.

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