Kobe gifts shoes to Tony Allen, the 'best defender I ever faced'

Last December, as Kobe Bryant's retirement tour first began to heat up, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar asked for a moratorium on farewell gifts.

Instead, often this season it has been Bryant who has done the giving. Kevin Durant, Paul George and Draymond Green have all gotten a pair of shoes from Bryant this season, and now his old playoff nemesis Tony Allen has joined the club.

When the Memphis Grizzlies came to Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Friday, the Grizzlies guard received a special gift from Bryant:

High praise from Bryant.

The game itself was less memorable for the pair. Bryant sat out with a sore shoulder, while Allen missed his third game in a row with a sore knee. Memphis won 112-95.

Allen has long been a thorn in Bryant's side on the court. In 2008, as a member of the Boston Celtics, he was assigned to shutting down Bryant in the NBA Finals. The Celtics won in six games.

Allen has long been vocal about his desire to be seen as one of the NBA's all-time defenders.

"When they talk about the Bruce Bowens, Dennis Rodmans and Michael Coopers, I want them to remember my name too," Allen told ESPN.com last May. "I'm not just playing this game to be average. I want to be elite."

Sounds like Kobe would agree.