Shane Battier played several times against Kobe Bryant being a prototypical switch defender in his playing years. Both Battier and Bryant had several memorable match-ups against each other in the Western Conference, where the Memphis assistant general manager spent most of his early career.
Battier was always getting his hand in front of Kobe’s face in order to distract him and made him “work” more for his points.
This is what Battier shared during his recent appearance on “The Brodie and the Beard” podcast:
“The funny story about the hand to the face, and Kobe… said ‘that didn’t work, I had so much muscle memory I saw right through it,’ (but) the reason why I did that was not to make him miss. That wasn’t my aim, which he thought it was. It was to try to get him to prove that method didn’t work. And by trying to prove that method didn’t work, the only way he could do that is take his worst shot, the long-dribble jumper, and so that’s all I cared about.
Whether he made it or missed the shot I didn’t care, but I knew he was doing the thing that was most beneficial for me and the most harmful for his efficiency by taking that shot, so that was the game within the game within the game within the game that Kobe and I played with each other, and it just was the ultimate chess match. I’m getting goosebumps just talking about it right now, but he’s the only guy to ever really bring out that level. I’m just really sad we’ll never get a chance to talk about that in person,” the two-time NBA champion said, per SB Nation.
The full episode: