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Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter have been playing against one another in the NBA for years now. They also have a history that dates back to the early 1990s when they played AAU basketball together. But yesterday, Carter discovered something that he never knew about Kobe. Apparently, Kobe has been using him as a source of motivation for more than 20 years now.

Way back in 1995, Carter helped his Mainland High School team win a Florida state championship despite suffering wrist and ankle injuries during his senior season. In an effort to motivate Kobe, his Lower Merion High School coach Gregg Downer used to tell him that Carter was a better player than he was after seeing what Carter did at Mainland. It pushed Kobe to lead Lower Merion to their first Pennsylvania state title in more than 50 years and, according to Kobe, it also pushed him to play harder every time he faced Carter once they both reached the NBA.

“When I came into the league,” Kobe told the Los Angeles Daily News yesterday, “I always wanted to play extra hard against Vince because of it.”

Carter said he was unaware of that connection between him and Kobe and laughed when Daily News reporter Mark Medina brought it up to him this week. But Carter also said that he wasn’t shocked to learn about it.

“Any information he can get for the good of himself to better him, he’s going to use it,” Carter said. “It doesn’t surprise me.”

Kobe’s old coach wasn’t surprised that Kobe still remembers the motivational tactic he used, either. When reached by the Daily News, Downer's response was, essentially, “Of course Kobe remembers that!”

“Of all the things that Kobe could remember,” Downer said, “he remembers me poking fun at him and saying that Vince Carter was better than him. He encapsulates all that stuff in his mind. He wanted to be the best. All these years later, you can’t compare what Kobe’s done to what Carter’s done.”

You can check out what else Kobe and Carter had to say about one another here. The Lakers and Grizzlies are scheduled to play tonight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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[via Los Angeles Daily News]