Kobe: I've never had rivals

Boston's Paul Pierce looks for help as he runs into heavy traffic from New Jersey Nets defenders. The Celtics won, 107-94.
Boston's Paul Pierce looks for help as he runs into heavy traffic from New Jersey Nets defenders. The Celtics won, 107-94. (CHARLES KRUPA / Associated Press)
Posted: March 04, 2012

Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant told ESPN Saturday that he has no real rivalry with a player currently in the NBA - and really hasn't had any in his 16-year pro career.

Though his team faces Miami on Sunday (3-0 against L.A. since LeBron James' decision to take his talents to South Florida), Bryant doesn't consider the Heat star a true rival.

"Not for me," he said. "I get up for everybody just the same, to be honest."

Dwyane Wade doesn't qualify, despite the hard foul he delivered during last week's All-Star Game that gave Bryant a concussion, a broken nose, and neck spasms, and put him in a plastic mask to play.

"He's too young," Bryant said. "When I came into the league, he was in elementary school." (Bryant is three years older than Wade, but after going to the NBA directly from Lower Merion High, was already a seven-year vet when Wade was drafted in 2003.)

Of those who might have been rivals, Bryant said, "I've outgrown them all, from A.I. [Allen Iverson] when I first came in, to [Tracy] McGrady to Vince Carter, and so forth and so on." He said he measures himself against historical figures, such as Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.

Hawks claw Thunder

Josh Smith scored 13 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter as the host Atlanta Hawks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 97-90, on Saturday night.

- Inquirer wire services

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