Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving and Kobe Bryant's friendship dates way back to 2012 owhen they both teamed up for the Summer Olympics. Kyrie Irving looked up to to the late NBA legend as a mentor, studying his gameplay and mentality to enhance his own game. In 2016, Kyrie Irving FaceTimed Kobe Bryant soon after winning the NBA championship, while Bryant expressed being proud of Irving's achievements. Throughout the years, Irving has shared many Kobe Bryant moments with the fans, including the time in 2012 when he challenged the five-time NBA champion to a one-on-one game for $50,000.
While in Las Vegas for a Team USA workout, Kyrie Irving walked up to Bryant and challenged him for a one-on-one game. Irving, who had just been drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, trash-talked Kobe Bryant and said he would beat him in a 1-on-1 game. Kyrie Irving further added that he was ready to put $50,000 on the line if it would mean Kobe Bryant would accept his challenge. While the two never ended up completing their challenge, Kyrie Irving did remember the challenge back in 2016, while talking about Bryant and how the Lakers star had mentored him. Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26 earlier this year.
Before the NBA season was suspended, Kyrie Irving was already out of the regular-season due to his back surgery. Irving was averaging 27.4 points per game for the Nets. After the season was suspended on March 11, Kevin Durant and three other Nets players tested positive for COVID-19. As no name apart from Durant's were confirmed, there were rumours about Irving being one of the players with coronavirus. However, a few days ago, the Nets announced that Durant and the other three Nets players are now free of the symptoms.