“He Can’t Guard Me, He Knows That”: Feeling Disrespected, 33 Y/o Kobe Bryant Dropped 40 On Raja Bell 6 Years After Getting Clotheslined By Him
The likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were the kind of players who loved having extra motivation in order to prove themselves. Raja Bell, a capable two-way star who played in the league for 12 years, poked Bryant and only found out about his mistake six years later. During the 2006 postseason, Bell clotheslined Kobe. Six years later, keeping tab of the incident, the Los Angeles Lakers legend went off for a 40-point scoring rampage with Raja being his primary defender.
During the Phoenix Suns-Los Angeles Lakers first-round battle of the 2006 postseason, Raja Bell was given the responsibility of defending Kobe Bryant. Almost midway into the 4th quarter Bell aggressively threw the Black Mamba to the floor. Even though the Suns did end up winning the contest 114-97, Bell’s violent act resulted in a one-game suspension.
The Purple & Gold were not able to capitalize with Bryant’s primary defender missing out on Game 6. Eventually, Raja came back for Game 7 and recorded a respectable 13 points while preventing Kobe from going on a scoring outburst. The Arizona side’s 121-90 win helped them to clinch a series win, mounting a 3-1 comeback.
Kobe Bryant went off for 40 points with Raja Bell guarding him
The 2011-2012 season was the final campaign of Raja Bell’s career. During Bell’s second-last matchup against Kobe Bryant, the Black Mamba finally decided to teach the 6ft 5” guard a lesson. Throughout the chirpy battle, Kobe kept knocking down shots. Hitting contested midrange jumpers throughout, Bryant taunted his 35-year-old rival by saying the following:
“He can’t guard me. He knows that.”
Kobe went on to finish the night with a 40-point performance while shooting 45.2% from the field and 100% from the charity stripe. The 33-year-old’s clutch plays on both ends of the floor helped the California side grab a 90-87 OT win in an action-packed thriller that went down to the wire.
On the other hand, Raja Bell had a pretty forgettable display. After recording merely 7 points and an awful box plus-minus of -7, the two-time All-Defensive player fouled out.
The Jazz would clinch a victory in their next battle against the Lakers. But, in their head-to-head clash, it was Kobe (26 points) who outperformed Bell (5 points).
Bell praised Kobe following the latter’s sad demise
Raja Bell and Kobe Bryant would always look forward to facing each other. No, not because they were good friends who loved competing against each other. But in order to satisfy their egos and outperform the other. On several occasions, the two have even badmouthed each other.
However, Bell did reveal his opinions about Bryant following the latter’s sad demise in 2020. Talking to CBS Sports, Raja regarded Kobe as the best competitor he played against.
“There wasn’t a greater competitor. I played against and with some of the greatest competitors, and there were none better than Kobe. There were none more calculating and none more cutthroat and more dedicated to the task than Kobe Bryant. I can say that definitively… He was a true champion.”
Despite the heated competitiveness that the two shared, it is heartwarming to hear about Bell’s honest admission regarding Kobe Bryant.