When Fearless Kyrie Irving Challenged Kobe Bryant on Call During 2012 Team USA Camp

Kyrie Irving's fearless exchange with Kobe Bryant was nothing short of iconic when the duo went face-to-face during Team USA's camp. Despite being in rookie years, Irving was lawless and dauntless.

Updated on Apr 22, 2024  |  10:42 AM IST |  93.7K
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Kyrie and Kobe

Kyrie Irving is one of the most confident stars of the current NBA regime and there is no doubt about that. The Dallas Mavericks guard is having a good season with the franchise. However, this confidence comes from a long story when the year 2012's Team USA was warming up themselves. 

Irving's self-assured nature was on full display when he fearlessly challenged his idol, Kobe Bryant, on the court during a 2012 Team USA practice. Despite his relative youth and inexperience at the time, Irving boldly asserted his skills and declared to Bryant, "You have to guard. You're not gonna lock me up. It's over." 


During the intense camp, Kyrie Irving showcased his courage and skill by fearlessly challenging basketball legend Kobe Bryant. Irving, a rising star fresh from his standout rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, made a lasting impression by going head-to-head with Bryant, Durant, and Harden in a pivotal moment. 

The iconic moment was lesser known till Irving sat with Kevin Durant on his podcast a couple of years back when he revealed how went face-to-face with The Mamba, he even committed to practising in front of the mirror before challenging Bryant. 

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Recounting the young days, Irving said, "I walk over there and my heart's pounding, I don't know why. And I'm like, I'm about to go talk with Kobe. I'm like, honestly, I'd beat you one-on-one, bro.”

“And I practised the line in my head, like when I get a chance, I could beat you one-on-one. I practised in the mirror before I got there…and I’m like Kobe, man, like I could beat you one-on-one….honestly, we should get this one-on-one game,“ he added. 


Additionally, Irving went on to acknowledge what it was like to be around Kobe Braynt. He said, "And I realize that Kobe also had an aura about him at this time that, if you were around him, he gravitated towards the real ones, you know? And he would have a conversation with the real people.”


However, in the realm beyond the basketball court, Irving and Bryant shared a strong bond, with the then-emerging star, Irving, seeking guidance from the legendary Kobe during the offseason. Kyrie specifically acknowledged the profound impact of Bryant's influence on his pivotal three-point shot in the intense Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

Following the heart-wrenching loss of Bryant in January, Irving stood among a chorus of distinguished NBA athletes who openly conveyed their deep respect for Kobe and his loved ones.  

Also Read: Jaylen Brown Posts Viral Dunk to Move Past Carmelo Anthony in Post-season Points During Celtics-Heat Playoff Matchup

Kyrie Irving was Fearless as a Rookie

During his rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving showcased exceptional talent and skill on the court. The 2011 No. 1 pick proved himself as a standout player, averaging 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.4 3-pointers per game on a solid 46.9% shooting efficiency across 51 games. 


His impressive performance earned him the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year award, receiving an overwhelming majority of first-place votes. This remarkable start to his career laid the foundation for Irving's future success in the NBA, ultimately leading him to become an eight-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA team member, and an NBA champion over the course of his illustrious career.  

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Also Read: ‘I’m Still in Shape’: Dwight Howard Drops Indirect Return Request as Lakers Fell Short of Nuggets Playoff Challenge

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About The Author

Nitish Singh is a Sports Content Writer at Pinkvilla and covers all things NBA. Apart from following

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