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Kobe Bryant reveals who the real 'Kobe stopper' was

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Bryant opened up about which defender gave him the most trouble and much more in an interview with TNT's Ernie Johnson.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Kobe Bryant is in the middle of his farewell tour. Now that the burden to win has been lifted, he's looking back on his long, distinguished career and opening up about some of the most iconic moments.

His latest interview with TNT's Ernie Johnson is full of gems about his 20 years in the NBA. He talked about Shaquille O'Neal, his inability to get his sixth title and a lot more.

Yet the most interesting part was hearing Kobe finally reveal who came the closest to being the real "Kobe stopper," the defender that guarded him best.

"The player I had the most trouble with, individually, was Tony Allen. Always," Kobe said.

If that sounds surprising, it shouldn't be. Tony Allen is a great, first-team All-Defense caliber defender, after all. He might not have guarded Kobe as many times in the playoffs as others but he was part of the Celtics teams that faced the Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals. He defended Bryant at times then and was partially responsible for holding him to 40 percent from the floor in that series.

While Allen gets top honors, Bryant also mentioned two Western conference foes with whom he had some epic battles: Bruce Bowen and Raja Bell. Bell's inclusion is funny -- as Johnson notes -- because things got heated a few times between the two. Kobe repeatedly called the older Bell "a kid" and said he didn't know him while Bell once clotheslined Bryant.

Oh, well. It's all water under the bridge now, it seems, with Kobe saying he "found out" who Bell was.

Kobe also offered some other insightful answers to Johnson's questions.

On the greatest competitors he's ever faced:

"Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson are the two that come to mind, immediately. Because they were just relentless. And Michael and his relentlessness was amazing. And Scottie (Pippen's) as well, on both ends of the floor. And then, in my generation, AI was much the same. I mean, from opening tip to the end, (Allen Iverson) was just going and going and going. He's always put you in jeopardy. So those two guys are the most competitive I faced"

On what he'd tell young Kobe if he had a chance:

"I would say 'focus on human nature. You have to balance out understanding human nature with the obsession to understand the exact tactics of basketball.' And as I've gotten older I understood that you could execute until the cows come home but if you don't understand human nature, if you don't understand how to relate to others, if you don't understand what makes them tick, you're never going to win a championship"

There are other fascinating Kobe thoughts on the interview, so make sure you watch it.

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