Pierce, now in his 17th NBA season, made his comments about Bryant in a first-person article for The Players' Tribune that was published last week. The other four players that Pierce listed as the toughest he has defended: Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
"[Bryant's] mentality -- his killer instinct -- is what separates him from the other guys on this list, because once Kobe knows he has you, he’s going to keep attacking you," Pierce wrote. "He’ll throw you down, beat you up and even when you’re knocked out, he’ll keep hitting you."
Bryant, now in his 19th season with the Lakers, and Pierce have battled twice in the NBA Finals, with Pierce's Boston Celtics winning in 2008 and Bryant's Lakers winning in 2010.
"One of the toughest games I remember playing against Kobe happened in Boston," Pierce wrote. "I think he made seven or eight shots in a row on me. So we come into the huddle during a timeout and Coach is looking at me with a face that I knew meant he wanted me to switch off of Kobe. And the rest of the guys on the team could see what was happening and they were looking at me too. Finally they bring up that maybe we should switch and put a different guy on him, and I yelled, 'Hell no! I’m going to guard him! I got this!'
"He ended up missing the last nine shots of that game with me on him, and we won. But the stat sheet is still vivid in my mind. Kobe took 47 shots. Forty-seven. No one has ever taken 47 shots on me. Most games a team will get up 81 to 89 shots.
"What you have to understand about Kobe’s game is that by taking that many shots, he’s meticulously wearing down the defender until he breaks them. He’s made a career out of making guys lose confidence in their defense and then continuing to attack them. He’s won five rings doing that."