Unlike Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant had a legit list of qualified rivals in his prime. Guys who consistently took aim at his Best on the Planet Title. Entering the same draft class as Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury & Ray Allen to name a few; any given night could be a test for Kobe. As the NBA entered the new Millennium, guys like Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady joined Iverson as the biggest thorns in Kobe’s sides.
There was a point in time when any Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors matchups meant something. Vince Carter’s jumping ability literally thrust him into Rare Air, while Kobe’s blatant disregard for opposition positioned nicely atop the Air Apparent list. People constantly questioned Vince Carter’s heart and drive. Kobe was ridiculed for arguably being too possessed and too driven. That key difference is what has seperated the two. Kobe’s career is complete and First Ballot worthy, all the while Vince Carter has played 18 years and is still searching for that elusive title. Not to mention, Vince Carter’s Hall of Fame candidature is still heavily in question.
Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter provided us with some memorable duels. None more exciting than the one they put on back in December of 2000. Vince Carter was facing the daunting task of going toe to toe with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers. All of this without his cousin Tracy McGrady, who had signed with the Orlando Magic the previous summer. Kobe Would edge Vince in both the individual and team matchup. Looking back it’s quite easy to comprehend why both were two of the most popular players in the World.