Tony Allen & Kobe Bryant.

Tony Allen responds to Kobe Bryant's praise

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With the NBA regular season two-thirds of the way complete, Kobe Bryant's retirement tour continues to take the league by storm, whatever city the future Hall-of-Famer steps through.

Ahead of back-to-back games with the Memphis Grizzlies, the 20-year veteran and 18-time All-Star offered some interesting retrospective insight that might have surprised a few people.

Over the course of Bryant's glittering career, the Black Mamba has faced many, many great shooting guards. However, the 38-year-old confessed that Grizzlies man Tony Allen was the toughest opponent of them all.

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Bryant told TNT's Ernie Johnson: "The player I had the most trouble with, individually, was Tony Allen. Always."

It was only a matter of time before the 'Grindfather', as his Grizzlies teammates affectionately call him, responded to Bryant's words of praise.

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When asked about his thoughts on Kobe's comments, the three-time NBA All-Defensive First Teamer told Sporting News: "That's a complete honor, man. He obviously is a Hall of Fame, first ballot, multiple NBA champion, one of the greatest ever — matter of fact, the best that ever played in my era. So it's a complete honor, and I was flattered by the comment."

It appears the two veteran's share a mutual respect that only years of pounding the court can develop.

34-year-old Allen has an NBA Championship ring of his own, after defeating Kobe and the Lakers as part of the Boston Celtics back in 2008.

NBA Finals Game 4: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics

Bryant's numbers against Allen down the years have been decent, but far from his spectacular best. He averaged 25.7 points a game - which can generally be considered a good night's work - coming off 42.1 percent shooting.

However, it's Allen's reputation as a fierce perimeter protector that has stumped many opponents, including Bryant. The life-long Laker only managed 28.2 percent from behind the arc when pitted against his toughest foe.

Chicago-born Allen believes his formative years in Boston, where he guarded Paul Pierce in practice every day, gave him the foundations to tackle a superstar like Bryant.

Allen said: "I guarded Paul Pierce my first six years in Boston (in practice). He a Hall of Fame, first ballot, himself. And his footwork is right there, too. So I think just checking him every day in practice and competing with him every day in practice prepared me for a guy like Kobe.

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks - Game Five

So, how does one go about guarding one of the greatest of all time?

Allen believes half the battle is in matching Bryant's legendary mentality; to never get discouraged and keep fighting.

"Just competing. Just competing," Allen explained. "Like I say, part of the battle is not getting discouraged. On to the next play. Making it tough for him.

"He got too many attributes to his game for you to focus on trying to take away one thing. So like I say, just don't get discouraged."

NBA Finals Game 5: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics

With the Grizzlies 112-96 victory over the Lakers last time out, the Memphis guard now owns a definitive career record of 17-16 over Bryant.

The competitive rivals appear to have locked horns for the last time in the NBA, but the healthy respect spawned from their many battles is refreshing to see.

LA Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Eastern Conference
Kobe Bryant
Memphis Grizzlies
Southwest Division
Boston Celtics
Atlantic Division
Tony Allen

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