Shane Battier reveals why Lakers great Kobe Bryant always needed hand-to-face defense
Former NBA veteran Shane Battier went on a trip down memory lane as he recalled guarding the late Kobe Bryant in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, particularly in the 2009 NBA Playoffs. Matching up against an elite scorer like Bryant, Battier needed to put a hand on his opponent’s face just to hinder the Lakers star from scoring a basket.
Shane Battier may have given everything he had during their matchups on the floor but the Lakers star still got the last laugh by the end of the postseason. Kobe eventually led his team to a win over the Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals in seven games.
The Purple and Gold then faced the Denver Nuggets in the Conference Finals and won the series, a 4-2. Bryant and the Lakers would go on and win the championship as they defeated Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on a convincing 4-1 series victory.
Battier and Bryant had more matchups as the years progressed. According to Silver Screen and Roll, Bryant averaged norms of 28.6 points on a 43.3% field goal shooting along with 5.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists when playing against Battier’s teams. Bryant ultimately ended his NBA career with a 20-17 personal record over Battier.
Their matchups over the years proved that even the most effective tactics didn’t work against the Lakers’ star. At the end of the day, Shane Battier’s stories about matching up against Kobe Bryant only speak volumes on the legend’s capabilities as a scorer in the league during his prime.