Dime Magazine Presents: The Definitive List of Kobe Bryant Agitators

Dime Magazine Presents: The Definitive List of Kobe Bryant Agitators


Our friends at Dime Magazine put together this dope list. Make sure to check out the Dime blog for NCAA previews, exclusive NBA coverage, and more.

Anybody who watches MSNBC's Lockup knows this much about prison etiquette: It's all about perception. You might come into the bing at 5'4" with a real pretty mouth, but if you create the perception right away that you're stone crazy, you can drop the soap all you want and not have to worry. Same rules apply in basketball. Guys only mess with you if you let them think they can, which is why Kobe Bryant is such a strange case. Despite being the illest player on the planet for the last decade, Kobe still regularly runs across opponents who treat him like a rookie. Of course, Jordan had his agitators, but by the time MJ was a few rings deep, they were fewer and farther between. Even the younger, less-decorated LeBron doesn't have as many guys going after his head. With Kobe, there still seems to be a perception around the League that he's soft and susceptible to mind games.

Over the weekend, Matt Barnes joined the rank and file of Kobe instigators. Although the Orlando Magic swingman was on the wrong end of a 34-point effort by Kobe, he had Kobe more frustrated than anybody has all year, and Barnes' team got the win. That got us thinking about the surprisingly long list of Kobe's most notorious agitators...

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RAY ALLEN
DIME SAYS: The feud peaked when Ray was in Seattle, and was briefly reignited when he joined the Celtics and beat Kobe in the '08 Finals. Back in '04, Kobe's first year without Shaq, Ray publicly questioned Kobe's leadership ability and predicted he would regret losing the big fella. "If Kobe doesn't see he needs two-and-a-half good players to be a legitimate playoff contender or win a championship, in about a year or two he'll be calling out to Jerry Buss that. 'We need some help in here,' or 'Trade me.' And we'll all be saying, 'I told you so.'" That led to an alleged threatening phone call from Kobe to Ray and some tense stare-downs on the court, but both guys have downplayed the rivalry ever since.

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RON ARTEST
DIME SAYS: They're on the same side now, but Artest and Kobe have had their battles in the past. Things came to a head during the '09 playoffs, when Ron-Ron's Rockets gave the eventual champion Lakers a scare in the second round while Artest and Kobe traded elbows and technical fouls. In fairness, though, Ron doesn't discriminate towards Kobe. He'd act like a bully if he was playing against his auntie.

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shaq-kobe

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL
DIME SAYS: Maybe this should be the other way around, because no matter what Shaq may have said or did to ruin the relationship in L.A., it's hard to top Kobe name-dropping Shaq to the Colorado cops. After Shaq left the Lakers, the League and the media tried to force a Kobe/Shaq rivalry, which never really materialized. But while both sides say it's all good now, who can forget this?

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RAJA BELL
DIME SAYS: Straight from Jay-Z's "If I shoot you I'm brainless, but if you shoot me you're famous" class photo, Raja's career would be utterly forgettable were it not for his run-ins with Kobe. Claiming he was only retaliating against Kobe's dirty tactics (apparently like this "elbow"), Raja made a name for himself in the '06 playoffs when he unleashed a clothesline on Kobe that Big Van Vader would've been proud of. Raja later called Kobe "pompous" and "arrogant" and said he didn't respect him, but Kobe only responded with the "I don't even know who this guy is" bit.

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CHRIS CHILDS
DIME SAYS: The Buster Douglas to Kobe's Mike Tyson, Childs has his own statue in the Kobe Haters Hall of Fame for what he did during a 2000 Knicks/Lakers game. Going face-to-chest with the taller Bryant, Childs popped Kobe with a quick one-two straight right and jab combo, then made some slick defensive moves to avoid whatever onslaught Kobe had planned. Kobe might have been able to get some revenge, but David Stern apparently had Childs sent to the same island as Jimmy Hoffa—he was rarely heard from again after that fight.

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Tags: basketball, dime, dime-mag, kobe-bryant, nba
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