Kobe came into the league straight from High School and it didn't take him very long to establish himself as one of the best guards in the league.
Bryant would go on to win 5 NBA champions, an MVP award and he was also an 18-time All-Star.
His opponent in one of those Finals triumphs was Hall-of-Famer Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Iverson got to witness first-hand just how devastating the Bryant-Shaquille O'Neal pairing was as the Lakers won in 5 games and he recently recounted what it was like to face Kobe.
"There is nothing that you can take away from him (Kobe) because he always had something to counter. He had no weaknesses."
"Only thing you could do basically is try to contest his jumpers, keep a hand in his face and try to fight him on the post as much as possible."
"When the opportunity presented itself try to double him early and get the ball out of his hands."
"We had a whole bunch of strategies to try to neutralize him, but the only thing you really could do is just pray that he had an off night."
That's very high praise from Iverson to Kobe, who nearly averaged 25 points per game in that series while playing second fiddle to Shaq.
As for Iverson, 2001 would be the only time he made it all the way to the Finals, and maybe it had something to do with the fact that he had some clashes with teammates