Summer of 2012, Kyrie Irving was fresh off his Rookie of the Year season. Kobe Bryant and Kyrie Irving were both present at Team USA Camp, and the young Kyrie Irving went up to challenge Kobe Bryant, and the rest is viral video history.
At 48 seconds, Kobe is finishing an anecdote and then posits the question to Kyrie, "Are you crazy? Are you crazy?" Kyrie Irving's confidence in his response is truly fantastic, and he responds with, "You have to guard. You have to guard! You're not going to lock me up! You're not going to lock me up." Kobe Bryant's amused expression by this supreme show of confidence from the young fella is priceless.
Fast forward through summer. Team USA men's basketball wins the gold medal, and the 2012-2013 season starts later that fall. In December of 2012, the Lakers traveled to Cleveland to face Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers. The game is a back and forth game, but the Cavaliers start pulling away during the second half. Midway through the 3rd quarter, the Cleveland crowd gets what it wants: a one-on-one battle of Kyrie Irving versus Kobe Bryant.
Kobe Bryant absolutely gets the better of Kyrie Irving on this exchange. Kobe Bryant will forever be almost underrated for his on ball defense. Kyrie Irving was still pretty young here, and truthfully his ball-handling skills over time have grown exponentially. Still, Kobe Bryant "owns" Kyrie Irving on this play, and probably made young Kyrie Irving remember his own words, "you're not going to lock me up!"
September is the time to remember some of the most exciting moments of the NBA. It's a time to get excited about basketball returning. Kyrie Irving is still one of the most exciting players in the NBA, while Kobe Bryant will always be remembered as one of the best.