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Andre Miller Reflects On Many Battles Against Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against Andre Miller #24 of the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on February 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Lakers defeated the Nuggets 93-89. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah Utes basketball legend Andre Miller had many battles against Los Angeles Lakers through his NBA career.

Miller played in the NBA for 17 seasons and spent 13 of the 17 years playing for teams in the Western Conference. That meant more meetings against Kobe Bryant the Lakers.

The Runnin’ Ute legend joined the Crimson Corner podcast to discuss his memories of facing Bryant through those years.

Bryant and 8 others, including his 13-year-old daughter were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning in Southern California.

The Shock Of Bryant’s Passing

Like millions around the world, Miller was in complete shock when he found out about the tragedy that took Bryant’s life.

“I was in a lot of shock. I was actually eating breakfast and got a text message from a friend,” Miller said. “I didn’t believe it because I didn’t see anything scroll up on the news or on my phone, but once it was true it hurt. It didn’t really hit me until five or six hours later and here in LA, it felt like a big part of it was ripped out. Losing a guy that gave so much to the organization and the community. It really hurt and it still hurts.”

One of the reasons the helicopter crashed was because the Southern California area was filled with fog. Miller resides in Los Angeles, where he was born and raised. He said the fog was really bad in the LA area leading up to Sunday.

“Those three days leading up to the plane crash, the fog was so bad here in California,” Miller said. “It was so bad, it was creepy from Thursday to Saturday. Just to hear something like that happen, it was tough to deal with.”

The thing that hurt Miller the most was that Bryant was just starting to spend time with his family after he retired from his 20-year NBA career.

“You spend so much time away from family and friends and Kobe isolated himself based on his basketball status because there was no where that he could really go and be himself,” Miller mentioned. “He spent so much time working on his craft, like we all did but to have him not even five years removed from NBA basketball to being a family man and his daughters are the age where he can spend time with them. That was probably the toughest thing for me to deal with was just seeing him interact with his daughters. Those kids and the other passengers that had a long rest of their lives to live was cut short.”

Defending Kobe On The Court

When Miller and whatever team he was playing for at the time that would face the Lakers, Miller most likely drew the assignment of guarding Bryant because Miller was a very good perimeter defender. But the Los Angeles native who grew up a big Lakers fan was just blessed to be sharing the floor with Bryant.

“It was a blessing for me,” Miller stated. “I think he came into the league two years before me and just being in the NBA and I thought I played in the second best era if not the best era besides the Jordan era against the best players ever in Kobe and Shaq. I was just blessed to be on that court. I only have a couple of pictures in my house and two of them are me guarding Kobe or he is guarding me. It was a lot of fun playing against him and of course playing against your hometown team, I enjoyed those moments.”

The scouting report on guarding Bryant was put simply by Miller.

“I thought I was a pretty good defender,” Miller stated. “But I am playing against someone almost four inches taller than me. You just hoped to not get embarrassed and force him to settle for jumpshots because you had to be aware of his craftiness.”

Miller was able to retire the same season as Bryant. Having followed his career, the former Ute summed up the legendary career of Bryant as more than just a great basketball player.

“He got the most out of his body. He got the most out of it mentally. He knew when it was time to walk away because you knew he put 100 percent into it,” Miller mentioned. “He won championships, he played at the highest level, he did everything he could possibly do for a kid that came straight from high school to exceed the expectations and come into a major market and meet all of the expectations. To see all of the kids that grew up in his era that look up to him even the pro players. There is so much that you can say about the guy. It was a great career, a great person, a great family person. He was a different type of breed.”

The Crimson Corner podcast is the one-stop for all things University of Utah Athletics hosted by Utah insider Trevor Allen. Ute fans will find interviews with current players, coaches, and staff alongside expert analysis of every game, story and angle coming out of the University of Utah.

You can download and listen to the podcast,Β here.

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