Tracy McGrady Says Kobe Bryant Easily Toughest Player He Ever Faced
UPDATE: Thursday, August 22, 2:25 p.m. ET
This article has been updated to reflect McGrady referencing that Bryant never faced Jordan in his prime.
TMZ managed to work their airport magic, snagging a brief interview as a celebrity tried to make his flight. This time it was McGrady, who was recently the target of some comments made by his buddy and Lakers star Bryant.
Here is the Mamba's breakdown on the toughest guys he faced, according to Lakers beat writer Dave McMenamin.
Kobe on the toughest guys he ever played against - Iverson, Marbury, Arenas, Melo, Durant - but put Tracy McGrady as the toughest— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) August 16, 2013
The TMZ report has video of their cameraman starting his impromptu interview by referencing this list and saying Bryant tipped his cap to McGrady's talent.
"Really? That's my dude," said McGrady upon hearing of Bryant's comment. When asked who the toughest player he played against was, he answers very quickly with, "It's Kobe...all day."
The former NBA star, who began his career with the Toronto Raptors in the 1997-98 season—the year that marked the sixth and final championship Jordan enjoyed with the Bulls—was then asked about Bryant's comments and that he didn't mention LeBron James or that certain Gatorade-drinking, Space Jamming Bulls star.
McGrady answers, "He didn't play against Mike in his prime." After that, a befuddled cameraman asks about Bryant again, to which McGrady ends the discussion with "absolutely, ain't nobody close."
If you are thinking McGrady's "prime" comment was in reference to himself facing the greatest of all time, you are not alone. As noted above, our initial article had a breakdown on McGrady offering his opinion on Jordan.
We weren't alone as NESN and FanSided essentially noticed the same. If that were the case, it would be rather obvious that McGrady would take Bryant over Jordan, even if he did see Jordan a few times in his rookie season.
It's an argument that even Yahoo! Sports' Kelly Dwyer argued when he thought McGrady was talking about himself, going through the trouble of referencing Doug Christie's past defensive prowess.
If anything, McGrady might have a stronger memory of the Wizards iteration of Jordan, which we can all agree is a far sadder version.
So when McGrady points out that Bryant is the toughest opponent he ever saw, we are inclined to believe him. Forget Jordan, because, as Dwyer notes, he never played significant minutes against him.
So we don't have an apples to apples comparison here—more like a fine wine to milk past its fresh date comparison.
We are sure there will be the usual amount of fans irate that anyone would take Bryant and leave Jordan off the list. In this case, it makes perfect sense.
Or we can fight about it on Twitter:
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