Kobe Bryant spent his whole career chasing the shadow of Michael Jordan, but they were always dear friends with each other.
If there’s one part of Kobe’s legacy that was secure within his first few years in the league, it’s that of a scorer. The Lakers legend always had a charisma and a graceful style to him whenever he set himself up for a score.
Bryant attributed this to the influence of playing and growing up in the Jordan era. The Black Mamba knew that to be the best, he’d have to beat the best. So he set his mind to obsessively study those who were great before him. Jordan was an obvious case study, and Kobe’s favorite.
Bryant made 18 straight All-Star Games, but few NBA players held him in any kind of regard at his first. He was the new kid on the block – the kid trying to outshoot and embarrass everyone who he played against.
That’s the reason why the likes of Reggie Miller, Grant Hill and Michael Jordan didn’t really think too much of him. Kobe was getting to territory that they didn’t think he belonged at the time.
Michael Jordan gives Kobe Bryant a backhanded compliment
The aforementioned trio began talking to each other about Kobe during his first All-Star Game appearance. Reggie, Grant and MJ were Eastern Conference All-Stars, so they had something to say about the new kid on the West:
“That little Laker boy’s gonna take everyone 1-on-1. He don’t let the game come to him; he goes and takes it. If I was his teammate, I wouldn’t pass him the f***ing ball. If you want the ball again, you better rebound.”
23 years ago today, KOBE BRYANT vs MICHAEL JORDAN at the 1998 #NBAAllStar Game!
19-year-old Kobe was the youngest All-Star starter in NBA history & this was MJ’s last All-Star game before his 2nd retirement.pic.twitter.com/TjRBjuvSVj
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 8, 2021
In retrospect, it’s hilarious to see how MJ became an older brother to Kobe as the years went on. The duo found an understanding with each other that few other people in the world were capable of developing.