Rockets News

HardwoodAce Highlights: Houston Rockets One-On-One Alumni Edition PART THREE

By James Chung
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Jan 21, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) against the New Orleans Pelicans during a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Lakers 96-80. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

T-Mac Vs. Black Mamba

Yes. That’s right.

T-Mac had some memorable battles against Kobe Bryant.

Here’s the Rockets and Lakers on opening night in 2007.

I wish T-Mac would’ve given his teammate Shane Battier more credit for making a big shot down the stretch, but he speaks a little about the kind of competitor Kobe is, and in a classy move, TNT’s Craig Sager lets Battier know that it was in fact a great shot.

While T-Mac had high words about Kobe, it’s without question that T-Mac was an incredible competitor in his own right.

With that in mind, there’s nothing quite like mutual respect off-the-court from your greatest nemesis.

I mean, obviously when you’re on the court, you want to get the best of your opponent, but to admit who your greatest opponent is or was is to admit there’s someone out there that makes you want to tie them laces just a little tighter, someone who you have to get a good night’s sleep to compete against, and that person for T-Mac was the Black Mamba.

The fact that both players acknowledge each other as their greatest challenges is quite beautiful.

The last thing you want to see is two guys being bitter with one another long after their careers are over, and both of these guys will soon get a chance to enjoy retirement together once Kobe’s illustrious career comes to an end.

Somewhere in that conversation, Kobe might poke a little fun at T-Mac about not winning any championships, and T-Mac won’t have much else to return the gesture with other than what could have been if Kobe and Shaq kept playing together with the Lakers.

Speaking of what could’ve been, my last match-up is more so made for entertaining the fans than it is for finding T-Mac’s biggest challenge.

Next: Half Man, Half Amazing