Carmelo Anthony’s former coach recalls how he saw Kobe Bryant crying during their 2009 NBA Finals series

During his career, Chauncey Billups had the opportunity to go up against Kobe Bryant, starring in major battles against the Black Mamba. He won the 2004 Finals MVP after his Detroit Pistons destroyed the superteam formed by the Los Angeles Lakers that year, defeating them in five games. Following that, Billups and Bryant clashed more frequently in the league, with one of their most memorable clashes occurring in 2009. The Denver Nuggets had a fantastic regular season and were on their way to the NBA Finals after clinching the No. 2 seed in the West. They could, however, only be stopped by one team: the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers, led by Kobe Bryant. This series got off to a great start with one of the greatest playoff battles ever, with Carmelo Anthony going toe-to-toe with KB24 in Game 1. Melo couldn’t keep up with Kobe and company in the end, and the Lakers won the series in six games. Billups couldn’t beat Bryant, but he remembered the series fondly. During a recent appearance on Showtime’s “All The Smoke,” the current Portland Trail Blazers head coach recalled going to congratulate Kobe before Game 6 of that series and seeing the Black Mamba crying. “He was dead set on winning the championship without Shaq.” It was Game 6, and the game had gotten away from them. As they examine us, I approach him and say, ‘Good luck, good job.’ He was in tears, bro. Crying, crying tears. He was overjoyed to be attending the Finals.” That season, Kobe Bryant won the championship after defeating the Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic in five games, tying Shaquille O’Neal for the most rings. After losing to the Boston Celtics the previous year, he proved to the world that he could win without O’Neal, and he went on to win his second consecutive championship and his fifth overall. He wanted to win as many as or more than his idol Michael Jordan, and Billups played a significant role in Kobe failing to do so. However, we all witnessed him win two more championships without Shaq, demonstrating that he could be the guy on a championship team.