Upon his arrival to the Boston Celtics back in 2008, Kevin Garnett adopted the organization’s all-time rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers.
This made for some memorable contests with fellow Basketball Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, who squared off against Garnett and the Celtics on two occasions in the NBA Finals. When both men walked off the NBA floor for a final time, Garnett and Bryant totaled 51 matchups over the course of their respective careers.
Now seven years into his NBA retirement, Garnett uncovered the origin story behind why Bryant switched his jersey No. 8 to 24 ahead of the 2006-07 season.
“People don’t even know the 24 stands for,” Garnett said on SHOWTIME Basketball’s “KG Certified” series. “People don’t even understand that that was a sign to everybody that a step above 23. If y’all even got that. That’s why he went with 24. That was a shot at (Michael Jordan). Straight up. Like, ‘(expletive), I’m better than you.’
“… If you at every goal or every record that Mike Jordan has had, Kobe chased it.”
Garnett’s story does certainly match up to Bryant’s fierce and competitive demeanor that made him a global staple in the sport of basketball.
Back in 1998, when Bryant made his debut NBA All-Star game appearance, he went face-to-face against Jordan, making for an all-time iconic contest. The then-19-year-old Bryant scored 18 points, refusing to back down from the challenge of Jordan on both ends of the floor while also providing several Hallmark-worthy moments.
And while we can only take Garnett’s word for it, does the story even come as a surprise?