Hamilton appeared on CBS Sports HQ on Wednesday, saying Bryant was the only player who "scared" him when they went head-to-head:
"He's probably the only guy—and Raja [Bell] can probably attest to this—the only guy that I competed against in my 14-year NBA career that when I would come into the game I was low-key scared. The reason why is, Kobe was the type of player that was gonna try to kill you when the first minute of play started, all the way until the final buzzer went off."
Hamilton was part of a CBS Sports panel that ranked the greatest players in NBA history, with Bryant coming in 10th place. He said the voters responsible showed a lack of respect:
"First of all, whoever voted and put Kobe [at 10] just flat out disrespected him. I feel like Kobe Bryant is the closest guy to Michael Jordan that we have ever seen. When you look at his stats and see, yes, he was an 18-time All-Star, he was a 15-time All-NBA player, tied with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but when Magic Johnson comes out and says Kobe Bryant is the best Laker of all time, that means better than him, and better than the guy Magic played with, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar."
Hamilton placed Bryant in a tie for second with LeBron James on his personal list. James passed Bryant for third place on the all-time scoring list Jan. 25, one day before Kobe was one of nine people who died in a helicopter crash in California that also killed his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
While it's easy to spend hours in endless debate about where any of these all-time greats rank—The Last Dance has opened up a pandora's box of GOAT talk—it's clear Bryant has as much respect as anyone among his peers. Kevin Durant, Baron Davis and several other contemporaries have placed Bryant in their top five in recent years.