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YouTube Gold: Shane Battier vs. Kobe Bryant

Watch as Battier drives Bryant out of his mind.

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 17: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against Shane Battier #31 of the Miami Heat at Staples Center on January 15, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Former Blue Devil Shane Battier retired from the NBA in 2014 but he remains a singular figure. Dubbed the No-Stat All-Star, Battier had a profound but subtle influence on games and while other players routinely underestimated him, he usually managed to affect the outcome of a game despite minimal statistical impacts.

This despite being, as his Houston GM Daryl Morey said, a marginal NBA athlete.

One guy who really couldn’t stand to see Battier on the schedule was the late Kobe Bryant, who Battier called the greatest player on the planet.

In this clip, Battier really gives Bryant fits.

At one point, you’ll see Battier’s hand to Bryant’s face and it gets repeated. These comments by Battier give some insight into his 3-D chess approach to basketball. It also helps explain why he was so valued. Who was smarter than that?

“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.”