Kobe Bryant couldn’t hide it, he modeled his game by watching Michael Jordan evolve. However, he did not necessarily see him as his idol or as a superior player. The proof with this incredible provocation made when he was 21 years old.
Since entering the pantheon of Michael Jordan, many young players were presented as his successors. Somewhat cartoonishly, every time an athletically dominant and offensively talented fullback shows up in the Draft, he’s compared to the legendary No. 23. Andrew Wiggins, for example, inherited the nickname « Maple Jordan » for this reason.
But in history, only one man managed to hold the comparison: Kobe Bryant. Whether in the game or in the mentality, the Mamba had the same qualities as his idol, but he was not satisfied with that. He spent hours and hours in practice to perfect his game and eventually pass him in the all-time hierarchy. His competitive spirit did not allow him to have a lower ambition.
When Kobe badly provoked Michael Jordan in 1v1
And when they met on the floor, it obviously gave rise to epic confrontations. Both wanted to prove their superiority, whatever the context, so they used to go blow for blow. Whether in the regular season or the All-Star Game, all the excuses were good to fight it out, as soon as Kobe arrived in the NBA. Phil Jackson told an incredible anecdote in 2014:
When Michael Jordan was retired, he came to see a Lakers game. I told him to meet me in the owner’s room after the meeting, because I wanted him to speak with Kobe. At that time he was 21 years old and the annoying tendency to monopolize the ball, I wanted Michael to teach him to let the game come to him and to be more personal when the game requires it.
When he entered these phases, the whole team lost the offensive direction that I wanted to give to the group. Anyway, we got in the room, and the first thing Kobe said to Michael was, « I’m going to kick your ass 1 on 1. » MJ responded by saying, « You might to arrive. I think you could do it. I haven’t played for two years”.
Ordinarily, Michael Jordan would never let anyone talk to him like that, he wouldn’t allow another player to entertain the idea that he could beat him on the pitch. But no doubt very impressed by the Mamba, he admitted that there would be a match between them. This approach to the situation is at least as surprising as the confidence displayed by the young man of 21, who finally met his idol.
Kobe Bryant has never lacked confidence or ambition, even at 21, and even against the man he modeled his game on. And because Michael Jordan recognizes talent, he didn’t even try. to contradict him during his provocation in 1 against 1, that is to say.