"I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready," Irving jokingly stated Friday night on Instagram Live as part of a conversation with former St. Patrick High School (N.J.) teammate Jeremiah Green (via Heavy).
"I sized Kobe up. But it was the crowd, it was the crowd," Irving explained. "The crowd got me."
He drove through the middle of the lane with a behind-the-back dribble, turned and tried a quick shot after an up-fake, but Bryant stayed with him step for step and finished the sequence with the rejection.
The five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash that killed nine people in Calabasas, California. Irving is convinced they haven't faced off for the last time, though.
"At this point, I'm gonna see him," he told Green. "I'm going to play him one-on-one in heaven. We good! I'm gonna get him back."
Irving added he used to spend "hours" watching Kobe highlights on YouTube while he was a young player working his way toward the NBA.