Longtime Houston Rockets forward Shane Battier revealed the reason why he infamously defended Kobe Bryant with a hand to the face. The defensive specialist had plenty of wars with the Los Angeles Lakers great during his time in the league, and he insists defending Bryant like that wasn't a matter of blocking his vision.

In fact, Kobe Bryant himself said the hand to the face did not affect him at all — though Battier had his reasons to do it anyway.

Via The Brodie & The Beard podcast:

“I knew that if I had any chance of staying with this guy, I would have to play my best game, I'd have to be so mentally sharp. I couldn't make any mistakes,” said Battier. “And even then, I still got torched (laughs).

“But he was an amazing problem to try to solve through data. A funny story about the hand in the face, and Kobe and Mamba Mentality says, ‘That didn't work. I have so much muscle memory, I saw right through it.'

“The reason why I did that was not to make him miss. That wasn't my aim, which he thought it was. It was to try to get him to prove that method didn't work. And by trying to prove that method didn't work, the only way he could do that is take his worst shot, the long dribble jumper.”

The former Rockets forward insisted this war of attrition happened in the hope that Kobe would play to prove that he was right instead of focusing on the best shot he could take.

There is no evidence that says Bryant would solely go to his one-dribble jumper every time he was defended by Battier, but the game within the game sure appealed to the stout defender:

“That's all I cared about,” said Battier. “Whether he made it or missed the shot, I didn't care. But I knew he was doing the thing that was most beneficial for me and the most harmful for his efficiency by taking that shot. So that was the game within the game within the game within the game within the game that Kobe and I played with each other. It was the ultimate chess match.”

Bryant torched plenty of defenders who thought they had a strategy to contain him. Ruben Patterson self-nicknamed himself “The Kobe Stopper,” only to be on the losing end of many scoring massacres.

It seems at least Battier enjoyed these wars with Kobe Bryant, even if his mind-game strategies didn't work as well as he intended.