Magic Johnson didn’t have a particularly memorable stint as a talk show host. But interviewing Kobe Bryant was probably one of the highlights.
The Lakers legend was a 5-time champion and a 9-time finalist in 12 seasons as a professional basketball. This stat itself should tell you all about how much Magic was about winning.
Magic understood the game of basketball at a fundamental level that no one else in the sport’s history has displayed. The man literally seemed to have eyes in the back of his head. He could see plays unravel and passing lanes open up before his own players did.
Johnson revolutionized the game of basketball for players along the world when he became famous. Kobe Bryant, who was a young kid growing up in Italy, idolized the Showtime Lakers’ driving force as a kid.
He got the opportunity to train and practice against Magic at around 17 years of age. It was an experience that would change his life.
Kobe Bryant trash talked Magic Johnson on the Lakers legend’s ill-fated talk show ‘The Magic Hour’
Kobe was one of Magic’s best guests on ‘The Magic Hour’ in 1998. Johnson has undertaken many enterprises over the course of his life, but it’s safe to say that he wasn’t cut out to be a talk show host per se. Kobe, however, made him look pretty great in his appearance.
Bryant fielded questions about the Lakers’ recent playoff exit against finalists Utah Jazz in 1998. He also acknowledged comparisons with Michael Jordan as a 19-year-old with 2 years of pro basketball experience.
But perhaps the most fun segment of the show came when Johnson asked Kobe to trash-talk in Italian. Bryant initially joked around and responded, “I can say whatever I want, it’s not like you will understand anything.”
But then he obliged and in Italian, said, “I switch direction with the ball to my right hand, I jump and I dunk in your face.”
Bryant showed that even at 19 years of age, he had the charisma to have the world at his feet. It was only a matter of time before he’d progress into the league’s best 2-way player and dominate every other perimeter star to come in his path.