Stylistically and mentality wise, there is no player closer to Michael Jordan than Kobe Bryant. The Lakers lifer was his generation’s MJ.
Kobe came into the league with the aim of becoming the greatest basketball player ever. He wasn’t shy to say it, much like Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t shy to admit this to Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes at Manchester United. And just like Cristiano, Kobe was willing to put in the extra, unseen hours it took to reach GOAT status.
Neither Kobe nor Cristiano is considered the consensus GOAT, although Ronaldo is much closer to that status. But they’ve impacted millions of players, youngsters and people from other walks of life by inspiring a great work ethic. The Mamba mentality makes one fearless and focused.
Kobe and MJ faced each other a couple of times before Jordan hung up the boots for his Bulls career. They also met when Michael Jordan was with the Wizards, but it wasn’t so intriguing with a washed MJ.
Kobe Bryant narrates how he was fearless going up against Michael Jordan
In a post-retirement interview with Patrick Bet-David, Kobe Bryant went into the depths of his obsession with Michael Jordan. Bryant narrated how he talked to Sixers players as a high school kid. He asked them how they guarded Mike, to which they replied calling him Black Jesus in awe.
Such was the fear factor and air surrounding MJ that players would subliminally accept defeat before ever going up against him. But Kobe Bryant was cut from a different cloth. He insisted on calling Jordan as ‘Mike’, and refused to take defeat lying down.
Kobe on how players used to fear playing Michael Jordan.
*Kobe was not one of those players pic.twitter.com/hV2Cm3gaSb
— MJs GOAT (@MjsGoat) January 15, 2021
Kobe straight up squared up with Jordan in his sophomore year in the league. He top-scored in a game where the Bulls cantered to a victory on the back of MJ’s shooting. The duo had a duel for the ages, combining for 69 points on the night.