The late, great Kobe Bryant spoke about his first encounter with the great Michael Jordan on the NBA hardwood as a learning experience.
If the NBA had to have a global face to its brand, it would be Michael Jordan. The legend played a major role in popularising the sport all over the world. MJ’s larger-than-life persona made him bigger than the game itself.
The 6x NBA champion has inspired millions across the globe. There have been an umpteen no of players who have tried to emulate his game and be the next Michael Jordan.
However, it would not be wrong to say that the late Kobe Bryant was the closest thing that came to be Michael Jordan.
Bryant and Jordan would often be seen trash-talking on the court. The two shared a unique bond. Jordan always considered the Lakers legend as his younger brother.
In his first game against Jordan on 17th December 1996. Bryant played a mere 10 minutes, scoring 5-points, and also had one rebound and block during the game.
Kobe Bryant’s first face-off with Michael Jordan
The 18-year old Bryant was taken aback when he faced Jordan for the first time in his career:
“That moterfer spun so fast baseline, I had no idea what happened. He was dunking the ball before I knew what the hell happened. I was 18 and I was like ‘Oh sht, that was pretty fking cool. Then running back down the court, he [Jordan] was like ‘A lot faster in person, isn’t it?‘ I had to snap back to reality with a ‘Fu** you.”
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Michael Jordan when asked about who would he want to play one-on-one had this to say:
“That list is very long. I’d start off with Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant in his prime, LeBron [James] in his prime, D[wyane] Wade in his prime, [Car]Melo [Anthony], that’s a good start. I don’t think I‘d lose, other than to Kobe Bryant because he steals all of my moves.”
Bryant has never shied from admitting that he had stolen many moves from the GOAT. Bryant edged out Jordan on career points with 33,643, while Jordan had 32,292.
Bryant’s unfortunate death in 2020 had the entire sporting world in shock. Michael Jordan broke down while speaking about Bryant during the memorial service at the Staples Center.
The Bulls legend shared some funny moments between him and Bryant during his speech and touched upon the long-standing association between the two.