Evan Turner recalls teammates’ advice when he first faced Kobe Bryant: “Don’t look at him in the eyes”
2023/05/12

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Evan Turner heard horror stories about Kobe Bryant from his teammates.

Kobe Bryant was one of the most feared players in NBA history. Not only was Kobe a great player on both ends of the court but he was also driven to win like a madman.

Over the years, we've heard 'horror stories' from NBA players who played against Kobe.

Most recently, it was 10-year veteran Evan Turner who talked about fearing Kobe during an appearance on the In Shambles podcast with Adam Garfield.

During their conversation, Turner talked about then Sixers teammate Marreese Speights warning him about facing Kobe for the first time. Per Turner:

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"He said: 'Before you go out there and shoot, when Kobe's out there, don't look at him, don't smile at him, don't look his way, don't let him see you staring at him, don't give him any type of edge, nothing…he's like a real Mamba, a real assassin'. And I said 'Wait, what?' He said Bro, you heard me, just don't look his way. Anything he does, he's trying to get the inside on you. Just don't do it, bro. That's not saying scary but I know for sure that was a certain type of fear."

As a rookie playing the Lakers for the first time, Turner didn't exactly know what Speights was talking about. But he would soon know firsthand.

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Last NBA game of 2010

Evan Turner was picked 2nd overall in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, and his first face-to-face in-game meeting with Kobe Bryant was on December 31, 2010, when the Sixers visited the Lakers in the last NBA game of 2010.

Turner did not detail if he had a chance to go one-on-one with Kobe on either offense or defense. Neither are there stats available online that would detail how Turner did individually versus Kobe and vice versa. But here's what happened in that game.

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In that game, Turner played 35 minutes and went 5-13 from the floor, scoring 12 points with 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals while coming off the Philly bench. Meanwhile, Bryant was as Turner expected.

Kobe made 13 out of 24 shots for 33 points with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Bryant hit a tie-breaking jumper with 1:15 left in the game to help the then-defending champions Los Angeles Lakers beat a young Sixers team 102-98.

Kobe's killer side wasn't what impressed Turner

But while Bryant was the killer that Turner expected, he would be on the basketball court, that wasn't the side of Bryant that impressed him the most. In a 2015 interview with ESPN, Turner also talked about that first meeting with Kobe.

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"He was super nice to me," Turner said. "I had teammates that said, 'When you go out there, don't look at him in his eye. Don't talk to him or anything; it's going to give him an edge.' Like he's some type of pit bull or something. ... Then he came up to me and patted me on my back. He was like, 'How are you doing? How's your mom?' I was like, 'She's all right.'"

That was a nice gesture from Kobe, all right. Nevertheless, nothing online supports the fact that something happened to Turner's mom. Maybe he played in one of Kobe's camps as a youngster, and his mom might have met Kobe there. However, knowing the extent of Kobe's psychological warfare, he was more likely using mind games to soften up Evan Turner that night by talking about his family.

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