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Bird’s favorite player is a Laker?

During halftime of Game 1 of the NBA Finals [1], ABC aired an interview between Magic Johnson [2] and Kobe Bryant [3] in which Johnson revealed Larry Bird [4] considers Bryant his favorite player. Turns out Bryant has a one-sided love-hate relationship with Bird.

Johnson: Larry Bird told me that Kobe Bryant is his favorite player. How do you respond to that?

Bryant: You know what? That makes me feel, that makes me feel great. You know, I hated Larry growing up. I did, I hated his guts. But I loved him as a player and his work ethic and his intensity, his tenacity and I wanted to be that way. And the funny thing is, I’ve never actually met Larry Bird.