Tony Massenburg remembers Kobe Bryant's Michael Jordan-level of intensity

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Bijan Todd
·2 min read
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Massenburg remembers Kobe Bryant's Michael Jordan-level of intensity originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Being compared to Michael Jordan is the highest compliment a basketball player—nay, an athlete, regardless of sport—could receive. On the one-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing, Tony Massenburg says the late Laker legend was the only other player who brought the same level of intensity as #23.

In an NBC Sports Washington roundtable discussing the legacy and impact of Kobe Bryant, the University of Maryland alum says Bryant was special, even during his early NBA days.

 “[Playing against him] was one of those nights where you’re using your peripheral all night. You’re not trusting your teammates. You’re expecting your teammates to get beat, and you know at some point, ‘I don’t want to end up on the poster,’” Massenburg says.

Massenburg describes Kobe’s unique ability to make opponents—even those playing the 5 as Massenburg did—nervous with his explosiveness and ability to attack the rim.

“He is unlike anybody else except for one other guy in the league that puts that kind of fear in you as a center, and that was MJ.”

Massenburg had a 19-year career as a pro, 15 of which he spent in the NBA. He’s seen his fair share of opponents, but he details that unlike everybody other than Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant had that equalizing ability. No matter your size, position or athleticism, Kobe would make you quiver.

Massenburg’s mentality playing against Bryant was, “‘I really gotta have my head on a swivel because he’s going to beat my teammate off the baseline,’” he says. “He instills that type of mindset, to me, that was similar to MJ when you played him as a competitor. He was an assassin. He was all about winning. Even in the early years, I could see the intensity.”

Watch more from NBC Sports Washington's roundtable on Kobe Bryant Tuesday night at 7 PM on Wizards Pregame Live.