Allen Iverson Writes Touching Birthday Tribute To Kobe Bryant

“You Were a Hero to Me.”

In an essay published in The Players’ Tribune on Aug. 24, “Kobe Bryant Day,” NBA superstar and Philadelphia 76ers’ Allen Iverson reflected on his friendship and admiration for the late Lakers legend. 

Just one day after what would have been Bryant’s 42nd birthday, Iverson took a look back on the time he spent with his fellow NBA Hall of Famer on and off the court. 

"Me and you, every single time we stepped on that floor, we were going to war. But it wasn’t an animosity thing. There was never any beef," Iverson said in his heartfelt message,  "It was like heavyweight fighters beating the hell out of one another. And then at the bell, it’s nothing but love and respect. Greatness needs company, and we needed each other. Mike needed Prince like Prince needed Mike. Tyson needed Holyfield like Holyfield needed Tyson."

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In 2001, Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers and Bryant and Lakers went head to head at the NBA Finals. 

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"You were the toughest man that I’ve ever seen in this game," Iverson continued. "The most cold-blooded serial killer I’ve ever seen. The fiercest competitor I’ve ever seen."

The 1996 NBA Draft pick said that both he and his children both looked up to Bryant and considered him to be a basketball hero.

“They were rocking number 8 and number 24, because you were one of their heroes," he said. "And if I’m being honest about it? You were a hero to me, too. Even though you were younger than me, I looked up to you because of how much you sacrificed, how much you gave to this game.” 

Wrapping up his letter Iverson was at a loss for words. 

“I don’t really know how I’m supposed to close out a letter like this. I don’t really know how to say goodbye to an NBA legend, a father, a husband, a friend. I don’t really have the word,” he said, 

“All I know is … I love you, brother.”

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