Michael Jordan highlighted the close nature of his relationship with Kobe Bryant by praising his approach whenever asked about it.
‘The next Michael Jordan’ is a moniker that comes with as heavy a burden as any in sports. MJ did, after all, revolutionize the game and make basketball truly global. He also was the most watchable, copied athlete in NBA history – for very good reasons obviously.
Kobe Bryant was never one to shy away from these comparisons. From his earliest days in the league, Kobe wouldn’t hesitate to tell anyone who’d listen that he wanted to be the best in the world. And we all know how Kobe put in the work for it through the course of his career.
By the time Jordan had retired for the final time in 2003, Kobe had fully justified those comparisons. He was putting in the most legendary guard shifts since His Airness himself by that time.
Michael Jordan anoints Kobe Bryant as his spiritual successor in the NBA
In 2006, Jordan gave an interview in London where he was asked who he thought would be the next big thing in basketball. This was his reply:
“I mean, obviously you have to look at LeBron because of his youth. And Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, those are all like the prop for the future. But if I had to pick one player right now that represents the future, would have to be Kobe Bryant.”
“The way that he plays the game of basketball, I have high regards in terms of how he focused on the game. He works on his basketball skills. Each day of the year he gets better and these kids are going to continue to get better.”
“Hopefully, the evolution of basketball is just going to keep growing. With the way the Europeans are playing, it’s pushing us to become better basketball players.”
do you think Kobe wore 24 because he was the next big thing after Michael Jordan who wore 23?
— 8/24 💜💛🤍 (@jayvizca) May 24, 2016