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Kyrie Irving challenges Kobe Bryant to one-on-one

July 13, 2012|By Mark Medina

Kobe Bryant gave Kyrie Irving an incredulous stare.

"Are you crazy?" Bryant said.

Bryant belted out a hearty laugh.

"Are you serious?" he asked.

Then Bryant repeated what the second-year star from the Cleveland Cavaliers dared say during Team USA's pre-2012 Summer Olympic training camp in Las Vegas.

"You really think you can beat me one-on-one?" Bryant repeats.

Well, apparently.

Irving approached Bryant and bet $50,000 he could beat the Lakers star. He expressed doubt the 33-year-old could guard him after winning Rookie of the Year honors. Irving did this in an open practice right in front of everybody, including a cameraman.

Bryant usually expresses annoyance over the NBA's perceived changing of the guard or that the 16-year veteran is too old. But in this instance, he finds it hysterical. And he rips Irving to shreds for it.

Bryant insinuates Irving can't afford to pay him $50,000.

"But I'll cut it to 25 [thousand] for you," he said. "Just for you."

Bryant suggests Irving's dad would disown him for making such a poor decision.

"But I know your dad don't think you can beat me one-on-one," Bryant said. "I know that. I know that. Get your dad on the phone right now. Be like, 'Pops, I'm trying to bet Kob 50 grand I can beat him one-on-one.' He'll be like, 'Son, are you crazy? Are you crazy?'"

Then Bryant relents and agrees to the $50,000 bet, money that would likely go to his foundation aimed to fight homelessness.  But he keeps digging at Irving after he takes offense that the Lakers star appears to view him as a high school player.

"You just came out of high school, kid!" Bryant said.

"I came out of college!" said Irving, who played 11 games his freshman year at Duke. "You came out of high school!"

"You played two games in college," Bryant countered.

"Some people need 30 games," Irving boasted, "and some people need 11."

Bryant needed none as he jumped to the NBA in 1996 after starring at Lower Merion High School outside Philadelphia. After 16 NBA seasons, Bryant has five championships, ranks fifth place on the league's all-time scoring list and has two Finals MVPS, one regular-season MVP and four All-Star MVPS. That's why Bryant predicted Cavaliers Coach Byron Scott would immediately call for a double team if Irving guarded him one-on-one.

"What, you think you're playing Lil' Bow Wow?" Irving asked, referring to the rapper whom Bryant beat last year at his basketball camp.

"You're about the same size!" Bryant said. "You have to be able to dribble the ball and score."

"What, I can't dribble now?" Irving said.

"I'm telling you, it's going to be tough," Bryant said. "You'll have to go back and watch some tape."

Hey, it's possible Irving could pull off the upset. After all, Bryant lost in a three-point shooting contest with campers at the Boys and Girls Club at Santa Barbara. But unlikely. Not when Bryant's competitive juices are flowing.

"Kyrie has some talent, so I'd actually entertain that conversation," he said. "He can play a little bit -- for a high school kid."

And that marked the end of Bryant's trash talk, eager to prove Irving's no match for his quick tongue. Soon enough, he'll realize he's no match for Bryant's game, either.


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