• Sixers legend Allen Iverson wrote an open letter to Kobe Bryant for the latter's 42nd birthday
  • Iverson said that there was never any animosity or beef between him and the late Lakers legend
  • "The Answer" also recalled his unforgettable encounter with Bryant during their rookie season in Los Angeles

Allen Iverson recently lauded Kobe Bryant and revealed that there was “never any beef” between them despite being ultimate rivals during their playing years in his new open letter to the late Lakers icon.

To commemorate his NBA rival on his 42nd birthday, Iverson wrote a touching tribute for Bryant on The Players’ Tribune. In it, he expressed his admiration for Bryant’s work ethic and revealed that no matter how badly they wanted to beat each other inside the court, there was no real animosity between them.

“Me and you, every single time we stepped on that floor, we were going to war. But it wasn’t an animosity thing,” Iverson wrote in the letter published Monday.

Iverson and Bryant both entered the NBA in 1996. The former emerged as the bigger star in their formative years in the league, fueling Bryant’s drive to prove that he’s also one of the best players in the world.

In fact, the late NBA legend once admitted that he spent years figuring out how to beat Iverson. In the process, the pair developed a good relationship in and outside the basketball court.

“There was never any beef. It was like heavyweight fighters beating the hell out of one another,” Iverson said in his letter. “And then at the bell, it’s nothing but love and respect. Greatness needs company, and we needed each other. Mike needed Prince like Prince needed Mike. Tyson needed Holyfield like Holyfield needed Tyson.”

“Everybody needs that person to say, ‘Oh, you’re the s--t, huh? Well I’m the s--t, too’,” he continued.

Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson faced each other in the 2001 NBA Finals. Getty Images/Jesse D. Garrabrant

Iverson also recalled his unforgettable encounter with the five-time NBA champ during their rookie season.

According to the former Philadelphia 76ers star, Bryant picked him up at the hotel in Los Angeles to grab some food and asked him what he was getting up to later that night. Iverson responded that he was hitting the club, but Bryant said he was “going back to the gym.”

From that point on, Iverson knew that Bryant was an extraordinary player, referring to him as “probably the only dude in the history of the game where the mystique wasn’t exaggerated.” The 45-year-old emphasized that everything people have heard about the “Black Mamba” is real.

“The Mamba was no myth, man. It didn’t even do you justice. One, two, three in the morning, we knew where you were,” Iverson concluded.

In 2001, Iverson reached the pinnacle of his NBA career. He won the MVP award and faced Bryant and the Lakers in the NBA Finals. It became one of the most memorable moments in the history of the league.