For the last time in his career, Kobe Bryant will play at the AT&T Center against the San Antonio Spurs.
The LA Lakers may not be the dominant force they once were, but a final appearance in San Antonio will bring back many memories for Mamba, who faced the Spurs on countless occasions during the glory days.
Under Gregg Popovich, the Western Conference giants have been a perennial contender in the NBA, forcing other teams and players to produce their best in the pursuit of success.
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Kobe has faced the cream of the crop, but he lists San Antonio as one of his toughest opponents, along with the likes of the Michael Jordan-led Bulls and 2004 Detroit Pistons.
Ahead of another significant stop on his retirement tour, Mamba credited the Spurs with taking him to a championship level of play at an early stage in his career.
“They forced me to raise my game to a championship level very quickly because of the way they played,” Bryant said, via LA Daily News. “The systematic approach to the game, their thinking on sequences, they play such a mental game. They play such a mistake-free game. It forced me at a really early age to step up to their level.”
There is no chance of the 11-41 Lakers making the playoffs this season, but when Kobe walks onto the hardwood at AT&T Center, the memories of those playoff duels with the Spurs will surely come flooding back.