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When Kobe Bryant Stamped Curry's Killer Instinct

Curry Received Bryant's Approval as one of the League's Fiercest Competitors

On the popular YouTube show 'Hot Ones,' Stephen Curry recounted when he received NBA legend Kobe Bryant's approval as one of the league's fiercest competitors.

Bryant coined and popularized the term 'Mamba Mentality,' serving as "the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit," which Bryant explained to Amazon Book Review in 2018 (talking about the release of his Mamba Mentality book). Despite Curry's outward happiness on the court, Bryant could sense a natural killer instinct underneath.

"He said that the joy that I play with and the smile that I have, you get deceived by the killer instinct that I have underneath and the competitive spirit that I have," Curry said.

Because of that joy and Curry's youthful appearance, Bryant co-signed the nickname, the 'baby-faced assassin.'

"For someone to validate you like that — especially he's not giving out compliments like that — that was truly special," Curry said.

During the interview, the two-time MVP reflected on two notable in-game moments where Bryant acknowledged his greatness while enduring the heat provided by a series of escalating hot sauces.

"It was my rookie year and we were playing the Lakers at home," Curry begins. " I come down the court, do a pump fake and hit a leaner off the glass. As we're coming down the court, the camera locks in on him and he leans to the guy next to him on his team and says, 'Yo, he's nice,'"

For his second example, Curry recalls a highly competitive moment in the preseason.

"We're playing in a preseason game and he's doing that Mamba Mentality thing where he's picking me up full court in the first quarter," Curry began. "He's doing defensive slides, staying in front of me. He stays with me for four or five slides and then bumps me and I fall off balance. I'm tired, trying to get into shape in a preseason game and he's just going all out on the defensive pressure and he's way bigger and way stronger than me, bumping me and doing all that."

"After I fall, I got no option; I'm just going to shoot it and live with it," Curry continues. "I shot it from probably 30 feet and made it, then acted like nothing happened. It was the biggest 'keep your cool' moment in your life because it's freakin' Kobe; you're trying to be super chill about it when I just drained one from 30 on him. He gave me a little tap on the behind on the way back. I went in at halftime and said, 'I need that clip, I got to save that on my phone.'"

Stephen Curry is the first guard to lead a championship team in scoring since Bryant did it in back-to-back seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Bryant's Lakers made seven finals trips from 2000-2010, while Curry's Warriors made six trips from 2015-2022. Curry also was the second recipient of the Kobe Bryant NBA All-Star Game MVP award after scoring 50 points and setting an All-Star game record with 16 made 3-pointers. 'Hot Ones' allowed fans to hear how these two generational guards crossed paths and their mutual respect.